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Severe Heat Kills Over 1K Pilgrims in 2024-1445 Hajj Season

The death toll during the 2024/1445 Hajj  season has surpassed  1,081, as temperatures have risen to almost 50 degrees Celsius during the world’s largest Muslim gathering.

Images show bodies wrapped and abandoned in the street after succumbing to the high temperatures, while many more experienced severe heatstroke and had to be taken inside.

Unregistered pilgrims account for more than half of those who have died, with many unable to access air-conditioned facilities or assistance from authorities.

On June 13, the Moroccan Consul General announced the death of five Moroccans during Hajj, most of them passed away in their hotel rooms.

Temperatures in Mecca and surrounding sacred sites hit 47 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, according to the Saudi National Center for Meteorology. Some pilgrims collapsed while attempting the symbolic stoning of the demon “Shaitan”.

Scientific advisor at the German Institute of Climate Analytics Carl-Friedrich Schleussner said “Hajj has been conducted in a certain way for more than 1,000 years now, and it’s always been a hot climate […] “But… the climate crisis is adding to the severity of the climate conditions.”

During the Hajj to the Kaaba, pilgrims perform religious rituals as taught by the Prophet Mohammad to his followers 14 centuries ago.

The lunar calendar determines the schedule of Hajj, which moves back by 10 days each year. While Hajj is currently approaching winter, by the 2040s it will coincide with the height of summer in Saudi Arabia. The globe is on course to increase by over 1.5 degrees Celsius by the 2030s.

Pilgrims are vulnerable, especially the elderly population, and those who are not acclimatized to the extreme temperatures and physical exercise that come with holy rituals during Hajj.