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Saudi Arabia. Over 900 participants of the pilgrimage to Mecca died due to the heat

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More than 900 participants of the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, died as a result of the heat, the AFP news agency reported. Most of the victims are Egyptian citizens.

Participating in the hajj is an obligation for every orthodox Muslim. As a result, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world.

Of the 922 dead, most were victims of heat, AFP reports, citing data from the mortuary of Al-Muaisem hospital in Mecca. “All but one of the Egyptian victims died from the heat,” an Arab diplomat said. At least 60 Jordanians have also been reported dead so far. Among the 600 Egyptian victims were many pilgrims who came to Mecca without official registration and were therefore unable to enter air-conditioned spaces, French media reported.

An anonymous diplomat contacted by AFP said that the dead included 68 Indian citizens. – Some deaths are the result of natural factors, we have many elderly pilgrims – said the diplomat, without specifying how many Indian citizens died due to the heat and how many as a result of natural deaths.

Pilgrimage to Mecca STRINGER/PAP/EPA

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Saudi authorities urged people to drink plenty of water, protect themselves under umbrellas and avoid being outdoors during the hottest time of the day – between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., but long-term rituals, which are a necessary part of the pilgrimage, require many hours of staying outside.

A study published last month in Saudi Arabia found that climate change is increasingly affecting pilgrims. In areas key to religious rituals, the temperature increases every decade by 0.4 degrees Celsius. The dates of the hajj are flexible, which is why in some years the pilgrimage takes place in the hottest months of the year.

Many victims of the Hajj

The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world. According to the Saudi statistics office, more than 1.8 million pilgrims participated this year, of whom 1.6 million came from abroad.

Over the last 30 years, approximately 4,000 hajj participants have died due to, among others, panic attacks, tent fires and heat. The greatest tragedy occurred in 2015, when approximately 2,400 people were strangled or trampled near Mecca. people. At least 240 pilgrims died last year, mostly from Indonesia.

Main photo source: Reuters

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