HomeHajjOver 2,700 pilgrims suffer heatstroke, exhaustion as temperature rises to 51.8 degrees...

Over 2,700 pilgrims suffer heatstroke, exhaustion as temperature rises to 51.8 degrees celcius

*Unspecified number of deaths recorded *Saudi Arabia reschedules stoning rite to evening *Blames victims for non adherence to directives

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By Haroon-Ishola Balogun, Saudi Arabia

About 3,000 pilgrims were yesterday affected by heat strokes and exhaustion during their journeys to and from the Jamarat for the stoning rite. The development led to the death of unspecified number of affected pilgrims. It was however gathered that no fewer than 14 Jordanians died with many others still receiving treatment at various hospitals.

The Jordan’s hajj mission also indicated that 17 of its pilgrims are yet missing, fearing they might have been affected by the intense heat and receiving treatment at yet unknown hospitals in the country.

Pilgrims from Nigeria and Africa as a whole were least affected.

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This year’s Hajj season coincides with high temperatures between 46 – 50 degrees celcius in the holy sites, making prolonged exposure to the sun a significant health risk for pilgrims.

It was gathered that Saudi hospitals within the area were busy attending to patients while further emergency calls to health officials were overwhelming as some calls could not get immediate an responses.

READ ALSO: Your support, constructive criticism drive us forward every day — NAHCON Chairman

Head of Emergency Unit through the Saudi Ministry of Health, Al-Shalhoub said that the 911 center in the Makkah region had received a total of 78,872 calls on Sunday.

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The sun on Sunday reached 47-48 degree celcius with a prediction that it would increase in the days ahead.

Most pilgrims whose tents are located at the end of Mina would have to walk 3.5 kilometers, an average of 90-105 minutes walk to Jamarat.

A pilgrim who witnessed the incidents on along Jamarat Mina road said: “I saw many of them collapsed as a result of the heat while walking to Jamarat. Mostly affected were the elderly and young non-Arabs, Europeans and Indians. Some died while some were rushed to the hospital.

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“In fact the police and the ambulance services were overwhelmed with the number of cases related to heatwaves. “Many were seen on the floor with some offering assistance as it were to resuscitate them even within a distance of 500 meters apart.

Confirming the incidence, Saudi Ministry of Heath on Sunday put the number affected by heat strokes and exhaustion at 2,764 pilgrims, blaming the development on non adherence to instructions of drinking water and using the umbrella.

“The number of cases of heat exhaustion and sunstroke reached 2,764 cases during this day alone as a result of some pilgrims not adhering to the instructions.

“We recommend campaign organizers to guide and educate pilgrims to adhere to the guidelines and protect them from exposure to any heat stress.

“Physical stress will lead to heat stress, and rest and spacing between performing rituals is important.” Saudi Ministry of Health said.

Temperature rises to 51.8 degrees celcius 

The Saudi Health Ministry said temperatures at holy sites during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage hovers between 48 to 51 within the last three days.

According to the ministry, temperatures soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius in the shade at the central area of the Grand Mosque, Makkah, with Arafat reaching 48 degrees Celsius and Mina and Muzdalifah 46 degrees Celsius.

Saudi bans going out at peak time (11am to 4pm

Meanwhile, the country Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has banned going out from 11am to 4pm for the ritual of throwing pebbles.

This was contained in a memo issued issued to all heads of Hajj participating Missions in Makkah, Monday.

The directive titled: “Urgent Notice to All Hajj Office Heads” says:

“By the directives of His Excellency the Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, and to ensure the well-being of pilgrims amidst high temperatures and to prevent heat stress, the following measures have been implemented:

•Pilgrims are prohibited from proceeding to the Jamarat Bridge for the ritual of throwing stones from 11 am to 4 pm.

•Security personnel will be stationed at camps to enforce this restriction and prevent any pilgrim from departing before 4 pm.

The Office of Hajj Affairs and service providers are tasked with ensuring compliance, and they will bear responsibility for any violations thereof.

READ ALSO: Climax of 2024 Hajj, as Muslims converge on Mount Arafat

Measures towards reducing the effect

Saudi Arabia’s measures towards mitigating the heat strokes included extensive cooling systems, both manual and automated water sprinklers strategically mounted along Jamarat-Mina road. The authorities also provided heat-resistant tents at Mins with and modern air conditioning systems.

Additionally, misting columns and spray nozzles are deployed across various areas to provide relief to the pilgrims.

Some pilgrims also use rechargeable and battery-powered neck and handheld fans in their determination to offset the challenging conditions brought by the heat.

There also portable fans procured by individual pilgrim for personal cooling in crowded areas.

 

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