1,300 Hajj Pilgrims Die Amid Extreme Heat Sweeping Northern Hemisphere

Jun 24, 2024

What Does the Heat Index Mean?

More than 1,300 pilgrims attending the Hajj in Saudi Arabia died amid extreme heat that sent temperatures soaring to 125° Fahrenheit (°F). Officials expect that number to rise as they continue to search for the missing.

The death toll is the highest recorded since a stampede killed more than 2,400 Hajj pilgrims in 2015. It comes as extreme temperatures fueled by climate change continue to trigger massive heat waves across the Northern Hemisphere.  

“It should be obvious that dangerous climate change is already upon us,” Michael Wehner told The Washington Post. He's a climate expert. “People will die because of global warming on this very day.” 

The extreme heat is blamed for the deaths of 100 people in India since March. And a number of tourists have died in Greece from the heat. Schools and historical sites have been shut down there. Surges in A/C demand have knocked out power grids in Albania and Kuwait. In the US, 100 million people in 27 states are facing extreme heat.   

Officials said the Hajj death toll was made worse by the high number of unauthorized pilgrims who attended the religious festival. Many likely didn’t have a place to stay. Some blamed tour leaders for not warning pilgrims about the dangers of the heat.       

Saida Wurie told CNN that her father, 71, and mother, 65, paid a tour company $23,000 to attend the Hajj. It's a requirement of all Muslims to attend a Hajj once in their lifetimes. Wurie said her parents didn’t receive proper supplies for the Hajj journey from their tour company.

“They saved their whole lives for this,” she told CNN. Both of her parents perished.   

Reflect: How do you think extreme weather events, like heat waves, can impact communities and individuals around the world?

According to the information in the infographic, what are the possible effects on the body of temperatures that exceed 125 degrees fahrenheit? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. fatigue
b. heat cramps
c. heat stroke likely
d. heat exhaustion
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