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ReligionSaudi Arabia

Over 1,300 pilgrims died during Hajj, Saudi authorities say

June 23, 2024

Over 1,300 pilgrims have died during this year's Hajj season, Saudi authorities have said, adding that the majority were "unauthorized" pilgrimed who accessed the holy sites via an illegal route.

Rescuers carry away a man effected by the scorching heat as Muslim pilgrims perform Hajj
Temperatures in Mecca reached nearly 52 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) during Hajj seasonImage: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

Over 1,300 pilgrims died while performing Hajj this year, Saudi Health Minister Fahad bin Abdurrahman al-Jalajel said on Sunday.

In statements carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA, Jalajel said that 83% of those who died were not authorized to perform the ritual.

"[They] walked long distances under the sunlight, with no adequate shelter or rest," Jalajel described the unregistered pilgrims. "They included a number of elderly and chronically sick."

Saudi minister says Hajj season 'successful'

Jalajel defended the Saudi organization of this Hajj season, which has come under increased scrutiny due to the mounting death toll. But the Saudi minister said the management of the pilgrimage was "successful."

He added that Saudi health authorities "provided more than 465,000 specialized treatment services, including 141,000 services to those who didn't obtain official authorization to perform hajj."

Still, many are questioning the unusually large number of pilgrims who died during the event. 

Temperatures in Mecca, Islam's holiest city, rose to 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) during the course of the annual event, which started late last week.

Some governments have also blamed travel agents who facilitated Hajj journeys for an overly large number of pilgrims, saying they provided them with illegal visas. Such pilgrims have been described by Saudi Arabia as "unauthorized."

rmt/dj (AFP, Reuters)