Hundreds of Hajj pilgrims suspected dead as Mecca temperatures exceed 50C

Muslim pilgrims use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun during the Hajj.
Muslim pilgrims use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun during the Hajj. Credit: AP

Hundreds of pilgrims are suspected to have died as they completed the Hajj in the searing heat of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Temperatures in recent days have sat in excess of 40C in several areas of the country as more than a million Muslims descend on the holiest site in Islam, with 51C recorded in Mecca on Monday.

Many pilgrims, particularly older people, collapsed and required medical assistance because of the heat. Dozens were also reported to have died from sunstroke.

Two officials who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said that around 600 deaths had been confirmed at a medical complex in Mecca.

A pilgrim receives cold water spray at the Hajj. Credit: AP

Saudi authorities have yet to provide a death tally during this year's Hajj.

Deaths are not uncommon at the Hajj, which throughout its history has also been impacted by stampedes and epidemics.

The fatalities among pilgrims this year included at least 41 Jordanians and 35 Tunisians, according to officials from both countries.

Local media in Egypt also reported dozens of fatalities among Egyptian pilgrims. Many Egyptians took to social media to search for relatives they believed were missing.

More than a million Muslims took part in the Hajj this year. Credit: AP

Some were found in hospitals around Mecca, after collapsing from the heat, while many others could not be accounted for while performing the rituals.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal.

Most of the pilgrims then leave Mecca for the city of Medina, around 210 miles away, to pray in the Prophet Muhammad's tomb, the Sacred Chamber.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed the Hajj in 2024, including more than 1.6 million pilgrims from 22 countries, and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents, according to the Saudi Hajj authorities.

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