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Tragedy Strikes Hajj Pilgrimage As 23 Pilgrims Die, 17 Missing Amid Extreme Heat,Others 

Daud Olatunji

 

The Hajj pilgrimage, a spiritual journey undertaken by millions of Muslims annually, has recorded  a tragedy  as 23  pilgrims from Jordan, Iran and Nigeria  have died, and 17 remain missing amid soaring temperatures and other issues  in Saudi Arabia.

Authorities from Jordan and Iran confirmed the fatalities on Sunday. 

Jordan’s foreign ministry reported the deaths of 14 Jordanian pilgrims, and announced that 17 others were unaccounted for. 

The ministry later attributed the deaths to sunstroke caused by an extreme heat wave. 

Meanwhile, the Iranian Red Crescent Chief, Pirhossein Koolivand, disclosed that five Iranian pilgrims had died in Mecca and Medina but did not specify the causes of death.

In addition to the confirmed deaths from Jordan and Iran, reports indicate that two pilgrims from Kwara State, Nigeria, Salman Alade and Ayishat Ologele, died while in Mecca. 

Their deaths followed those of two other Nigerian pilgrims, Saliu Mohammed and Hawawu Mohammed, who passed away in Madinah. 

This has raised the death toll among Kwara State pilgrims to four and altogether is 23.

This year’s Hajj has drawn approximately 1.8 million Muslims, who are required to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime if they have the means. 

The pilgrimage involves numerous outdoor rituals, many of which are performed on foot, posing significant challenges, especially for the elderly, as temperatures have surged past 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Despite the tragic occurrences, Saudi authorities have not released any information regarding fatalities. 

However, the kingdom has implemented various heat mitigation measures to protect pilgrims, including climate-controlled areas, water distribution, and advice on sun protection. 

Last year, during the Hajj, more than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded, with 10 percent being cases of heat stroke. 

The death toll last year reached at least 240, predominantly affecting pilgrims from Indonesia.

A Saudi study highlighted the increasing severity of regional temperatures, noting a rise of 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade. 

This trend poses a significant challenge to current mitigation efforts, potentially outpacing the measures in place to protect pilgrims from the extreme heat.

The Hajj remains one of the world’s largest religious gatherings and a cornerstone of Islamic practice. 

However, the rising temperatures and associated health risks underscore the need for continued and enhanced measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants. 

As the pilgrimage continues, the global Muslim community mourns the loss of those who have died and prays for the safe return of the missing.

 

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