Nearly 500 Confirmed Fatalities from Hajj Heatwave

The official death toll from this year’s Hajj pilgrimage has soared to almost 500 and the true toll could be more than double that as reports emerged that as many as 600 Egyptian worshipers perished on the route to Mecca amid extreme heat.
At least 14 Malaysians, 165 Indonesians, 68 Jordanians, 35 Pakistanis, 35 Tunisians, 11 Iranians and 98 Indians have died, according to authorities in each country.
A further 22 Jordanians were hospitalised and 16 are still missing, CNN quoted the Jordanian Foreign Ministry to have said.
Dozens of Iranians have also been hospitalised due to heatstroke and other conditions, the Iranian Red Crescent said Wednesday, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

According to a CNN tally, this brings the latest official death toll for this year’s pilgrimage to at least 460.
The death tolls are expected to rise much further, as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have yet to release official figures. Additionally, the governments are only aware of pilgrims who have registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota – more deaths are feared among unregistered pilgrims.
The pilgrims made this year’s journey in dangerously high temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to the Egyptian presidency, the crisis unit will be headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and will “provide support for families of the deceased.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has also instructed the unit on “speedy coordination with Saudi Arabian authorities to facilitate the return of the bodies” of those who died, the statement added.

The official number of dead Egyptians stands at 28, according to an Egyptian cabinet statement Thursday. However, it is being widely reported by Reuters news agency and other outlets that as many as 500 to 600 Egyptians perished on the route.

Egyptian officials said they were working to gather an accurate tally of victims and missing persons. The discrepancy stems from vast numbers of unregistered pilgrims who are not accounted for among those who have registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota.

Thousands more have been treated for heatstroke after an estimated crowd of 1.8 million Muslims contended with the high temperatures.

The Saudi Ministry of Health implemented safety measures including cooling stations along the official route, and urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and stay hydrated, The Associated Press reported. Despite this, this year’s event was overshadowed by tragedy, raising questions over whether more could have been done to ensure people’s safety. 

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