More than 1,300 people die during Hajj pilgrimage in scorching 50C heat

More than 1,300 people die during Hajj pilgrimage in scorching 50C heat

More than 1,300 pilgrims died during the Hajj pilgrimage this year amid scorching heat, the Saudi health minister said on Sunday night.

Thousands were also reportedly treated for heatstroke after temperatures topped 50°C.

More than 1.8 million people participated in this year’s Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims.

Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel said that 83 per cent of the 1,301 fatalities were unauthorised pilgrims who walked long distances in soaring temperatures to perform the Hajj rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca.

Speaking to state-owned television, the minister said 95 pilgrims were being treated in hospitals, some of whom were airlifted for treatment in the capital, Riyadh.

He said the identification process was delayed because there were no identification documents with many of the dead pilgrims.

The fatalities included more than 660 Egyptians. All but 31 of them were unauthorised pilgrims, according to two officials in Cairo, news agency AP reported.

Egypt has revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies that helped unauthorised pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, authorities said.

Hajj officials advised pilgrims to carry umbrellas and stay hydrated during the pilgrimage, which ran from Friday, June 14 until Wednesday, June 19.

The Saudi army deployed more than 1,600 personnel with medical units for heatstroke and 30 rapid response teams.