A woman effected by the scorching heat rests as pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic 'stoning of the devil' ritual in Mina, near Mecca, on June 16, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Saudi television has reported that extreme temperatures during this Hajj season, reaching up to 51.8 degrees Celsius in the shade within Mecca, have led to the deaths of dozens of pilgrims.

The Tunis Africa News Agency confirmed that 23 pilgrims from Tunisia succumbed to the intense heat while performing their rituals. Families of the deceased have taken to social media to express their grief, with some still searching for missing relatives in Saudi hospitals.

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In a statement, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 41 Jordanian pilgrims had died in Mecca during the Hajj rituals.

Meanwhile, Iran News Network reported on Tuesday that 11 Iranian pilgrims had died, and 24 others were hospitalised, although the specific cause of death was not provided.

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Additonally, the Senegalese Press Agency reported on Monday that three Senegalese citizens had died during the Hajj season. Le Monde newspaper cited that 136 Indonesian citizens had died during the pilgrimage, with three deaths attributed to sunstroke. Data from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, shared with Reuters on Tuesday, indicated a total of 144 Indonesian deaths during the Hajj, but did not specify whether these were due to sunstroke.

Over the past 30 years, stampedes, tent fires, and other incidents have caused hundreds of deaths during the Hajj, prompting the Saudi government to invest in new infrastructure.

Despite these reports, a Saudi health official told Reuters that there had been no unusual increase in deaths among pilgrims due to the high temperatures.

Jameel Abualenain, General Supervisor of the General Department of Emergencies, Disasters, and Ambulance Transport at the Saudi Ministry of Health, said, “We have not noticed, thank God, anything abnormal or any deviation from the normal numbers of cases of illness and deaths.”

The ministry has provided healthcare to more than 2,700 pilgrims affected by the high temperatures. Pilgrims were seen using umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, while Saudi authorities advised them to stay hydrated and avoid going out during the peak heat hours between 11 am and 3 pm.