68 Indian pilgrims among 600 people to die during Hajj in Saudi Arabia | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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68 Indian pilgrims among 600 people to die during Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Jun 20, 2024 07:15 AM IST

The deaths of the Indians were reported over a period of weeks and the number of deaths on the final day of the pilgrimage was six

NEW DELHI: Sixty-eight Indian nationals were among more than 600 people from around the world who died during this year’s Haj pilgrimage that was marked by searing heat and intense high temperatures, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they perform Tawaf at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on June 18 (REUTERS)
Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they perform Tawaf at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on June 18 (REUTERS)

The deaths of the Indians were reported over a period of weeks and the number of deaths on the final day of the pilgrimage was six, the people said on condition of anonymity. Several deaths were due to natural causes or old age, and some were due to intense weather conditions, they said.

Saudi Arabia: 14 Jordanian Hajj pilgrims dead as temperature nears 48 degrees

There was no official word from the Indian government on the development.

A total of 175,000 Indian pilgrims travelled to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Haj.

Muslim pilgrim pours water on his head to cool down from the heat, as he takes part in the annual haj pilgrimage in Mina, Saudi Arabia (REUTERS)
Muslim pilgrim pours water on his head to cool down from the heat, as he takes part in the annual haj pilgrimage in Mina, Saudi Arabia (REUTERS)

Citing two unnamed Arab diplomats, AFP reported on Tuesday that 550 deaths were recorded during the Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims with the means must perform at least once. According to an AFP tally, the total reported deaths so far is 645.

This figure includes 323 Egyptians and 60 Jordanians. Deaths have also been confirmed by Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

Last year more than 200 pilgrims were reported dead, most of them from Indonesia. The people cited above said dozens of Indians die every year during the Haj, mostly because of old age or ailments.

“Many Indians who perform the Haj are elderly and most of them aren’t in very good health,” one person said.

Two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said they believed at least 600 bodies were at the Emergency Complex in the Al-Muaisem neighbourhood of Mecca. Security was tight at the complex, with an official reading out names of the dead and their nationalities, including people from India, Algeria and Egypt.

A pilgrim pushes his wife and child in a wheelchair at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca (REUTERS)
A pilgrim pushes his wife and child in a wheelchair at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca (REUTERS)

Saudi Arabia hasn’t provided information on fatalities, though it reported more than 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone.

For the past few years, the Haj, whose dates are determined according to the lunar Islamic calendar, has fallen during the sweltering Saudi summer. According to a Saudi study published in May, temperatures in the area where rituals are performed are rising 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade.

At least 550 pilgrims died during Hajj amid scorching heat, mostly Egyptians

On Tuesday, temperatures reached 47 degrees Celsius in Mecca and the sacred sites in and around the city, according to the Saudi National Center for Meteorology. Some people fainted while trying to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil. At the Grand Mosque in Mecca, temperatures reached 51.8 degrees Celsius on Monday.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed the Haj this year, including more than 1.6 million from 22 countries.

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