Haj Pilgrimage Ends Amid Temperature Spike

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Saudi Arabia on Monday warned of a temperature spike in Makkah as Muslim pilgrims wrapped up the Haj in searing conditions, with more than a dozen heat-related deaths confirmed.
One of the world's largest religious gatherings unfolded during the Saudi summer again this year, and authorities recorded more than 2,700 cases of“heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone, the Saudi health Ministry said.
On Monday, according to the Saudi weather service, temperatures reached 51.8 degrees Celsius at Makkah's Grand Mosque, where pilgrims were circling the Ka'aba, towards which all Muslims pray.
In nearby Mina, where a spokesman for the national meteorology service said the temperature was 46C, other pilgrims threw stones at three concrete walls - a ritual known as stoning the devil that is the last major step of the Haj.
Jordan's foreign ministry said on Sunday that 14 Jordanian pilgrims had died“after suffering sun stroke due to the extreme heat wave”, and that 17 others were“missing”.
Iran reported the deaths of five pilgrims but did not specify the cause, while Senegal's foreign ministry said that three others had died.
An Indonesian health ministry official, currently in Saudi Arabia, said on Monday that 136 Indonesian pilgrims had died during the Haj including at least three of heat stroke. Karwan Stoni, official spokesperson for pilgrims from Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, said on Monday that 13 pilgrims had died, including 11 women.
Heat was“one of the main reasons” for the deaths, along with heart attacks, he said.
“The holy sites today record the highest temperatures since the beginning of Haj...that may reach 49 degrees Celsius, and we advise the guests not to be exposed to the sun,” the Saudi health ministry said, according to state-affiliated Al-Ekhbariya channel.“Prevention is the most important, and the commitment of pilgrims not to go out at peak times except when necessary, or to use an umbrella, would reduce the incidence of heat exhaustion,” its statement said.
“Our health guidelines for the coming days are clear and easy: carry an umbrella, drink water regularly, and avoid exposure to the sun.” Pilgrims in Mina on Monday poured bottles of water over their heads as authorities handed out cold drinks and fast-melting chocolate ice cream.
Arzu Farhaj of Pakistan said she struggled to find help for a woman who was lying on the roadside.
Around 1.8mn pilgrims took part this year, 1.6mn of them from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.


Gulf Times

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