Pilgrims stone devil as they wrap up Hajj in deadly heat - GulfToday

Pilgrims stone devil as they wrap up Hajj in deadly heat


Pilgrims cast stones at pillars in the symbolic stoning of the devil in Mina near Makkah on Monday. AP

Pilgrims used the early morning hours on Monday to perform the second day of the symbolic stoning of the devil, hoping to escape the noontime summer heat that caused heatstroke and sunburns among thousands wrapping up the Hajj pilgrimage.

The final days of the Hajj coincide with Muslims around the world celebrating the Eid Al Adha holiday.

The stoning of the pillars representing the devil takes place in Mina, a desert plain just outside the city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

A third stoning is scheduled Tuesday, before the Farewell Tawaf, or circling the Kaaba in Makkah.

The rites have taken place under the soaring summer heat, which at 2:00 pm reached 48 degrees Celsius in Makkah and the sacred sites in and around the city, according to the Saudi National Center for Metrology.

"Of course, it is something very hard and tiring. The temperature is abnormal compared to the past years and this affects us a lot,” said Ahmed Al Baradie, an Egyptian pilgrim, after finishing his second symbolic stoning.

More than 2,760 pilgrims suffered from sunstroke and heat stress on Sunday alone at the start of the first round of stoning, according to the Health Ministry.

Jordan announced Sunday that 14 Jordanian pilgrims had died from heatstroke.

The number of pilgrims on the roads leading to the pillars on Monday morning decreased significantly compared to Sunday.

Carrying an umbrella against the burning sun, Pakistani pilgrim Khoda Bakhch visited the stoning site on Monday morning and planned to return at sunset.

"After two or three hours, it (temperature) may be too much," he said.

Security forces, medics and first responders have been deployed in and around Mina, especially on roads and open areas to direct and help pilgrims. They treated many people for sunburns on their feet.

"I am really impressed by the preparations,” Sani Abdullah, a Nigerian, told reporters, adding that he was used to such burning heat in his country.

"I have never encountered any problems. Everything is going smoothly.”

Later in the day, the sky turned cloudy and it rained for a while, helping taper off the stress of the desert heat.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed the Hajj in 2024, slightly less than last year’s 1.84 million, according to data released by the Saudi Hajj and Umra Ministry. This year’s figures included more than 1.6 million pilgrims from 22 countries, and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents.

Associated Press

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