Tragedy at 2024 Hajj: Over 1,300 Pilgrims Die in Extreme Heat

High Temperatures and Unauthorized Pilgrims Lead to Tragic Loss

This year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia ended in tragedy, with over 1,300 pilgrims losing their lives due to extreme heat. Saudi authorities announced on Sunday that 83% of the 1,301 fatalities were unauthorized pilgrims who faced severe conditions as they walked long distances to perform the rituals in and around Mecca.

Impact on Unauthorized Pilgrims

Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel stated that many of the deceased were unauthorized pilgrims without proper shelter or identification documents, complicating the identification process. These pilgrims were buried in Mecca, though a detailed breakdown was not provided.

Significant Egyptian Losses

Among the dead, more than 660 were Egyptians, most of whom were unauthorized pilgrims. In response, Egypt has revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies that facilitated the travel of these unauthorized pilgrims using inappropriate visas. The government also referred officials from these agencies to the public prosecutor for investigation.

Heat-Related Challenges

Temperatures in Mecca during the Hajj ranged from 46°C to 49°C (117°F to 120°F), causing many pilgrims to faint, vomit, and collapse from heat exhaustion. Nearly 3,000 people sought treatment for heat-related issues, and 95 pilgrims were hospitalized, with some airlifted to Riyadh for further care.

Global Toll

The fatalities included pilgrims from various countries, including 165 from Indonesia, 98 from India, and dozens more from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Malaysia. Two U.S. citizens were also reported dead. The Associated Press observed pilgrims collapsing from the heat, particularly on the second and third days of the Hajj.

Historical Context and Future Concerns

Historically, deaths during the Hajj are not uncommon due to the large crowds and challenging conditions. However, this year’s death toll was unusually high. Previous incidents, like the 2015 stampede that killed over 2,400 pilgrims, highlight the ongoing risks. Climate change is expected to exacerbate these dangers, with future Hajj seasons likely to face even higher temperatures.

Preventive Measures and Calls for Safety

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in safety measures and crowd control, but the sheer number of participants, over 1.8 million this year, makes it challenging to ensure everyone’s safety. Experts emphasize the need for moderation during the Hajj, advising pilgrims to avoid extreme exertion and utilize available support.

A Message of Humanity and Help

Despite the tragedy, the Hajj continues to be a powerful spiritual journey. Ather Hussain, a British imam, observed people doing whatever they could to help each other in the extreme heat. This spirit of cooperation and assistance is a core message of the Hajj, reminding everyone of the importance of helping one another.


The 2024 Hajj pilgrimage was marked by extreme heat and tragic losses. As climate change continues to pose new challenges, both authorities and pilgrims must adapt to ensure safety during this sacred journey.