44 votes

More than 550 hajj pilgrims die in Mecca as temperatures exceed 50C

19 comments

  1. X08
    Link
    May they rest in peace. I have no things to add since I'd be looking at this with western goggles.

    May they rest in peace. I have no things to add since I'd be looking at this with western goggles.

    24 votes
  2. [2]
    CannibalisticApple
    Link
    For fellow Americans, 50C is 122F. Whether wet or dry, that's probably at the top of the range for temperatures humans can potentially withstand. And even then, they'd only be able to stand it for...

    For fellow Americans, 50C is 122F. Whether wet or dry, that's probably at the top of the range for temperatures humans can potentially withstand. And even then, they'd only be able to stand it for a few hours.

    Don't have much to say other than that this is tragic. I fear more people may die in the coming days, since the article mentions over 2,000 people being treated as of Sunday, and that there are searches now for missing Egyptians.

    22 votes
    1. papasquat
      Link Parent
      I spent about a year in Saudi Arabia, and it would routinely get up to the low 120s. As a fellow American, I never felt heat like that in my life. It's hard to describe, except that it feels like...

      I spent about a year in Saudi Arabia, and it would routinely get up to the low 120s. As a fellow American, I never felt heat like that in my life.

      It's hard to describe, except that it feels like opening up an oven and standing directly at the entrance all day long. The heat is also tricky, because it feels somewhat bearable at first, you don't even notice the toll it takes on your body until your vision starts getting dark and blurry and you're being dragged to shade.

      I was always amazed that human settlements even manage to exist there. There are towns in miles and miles of open desert, with terrain and weather that feel like it doesn't even belong on earth, yet somehow people have managed to live their entire lives there for thousands of years. If I didn't have ready access to shelter, and copious amounts of water whenever I wanted, I fully expect that I could have very easily died from the heat alone, yet there are tons of settlements out there in the desert. Really makes you feel like humans can get used to anything.

      16 votes
  3. [4]
    rish
    (edited )
    Link
    It is mentioned nonchalantly however stamped during Hajj is a major concern. From the photos the place looks really claustrophobic with thousands of people standing so close, and overall...

    except for one who sustained fatal injuries during a minor crowd crush

    It is mentioned nonchalantly however stamped during Hajj is a major concern. From the photos the place looks really claustrophobic with thousands of people standing so close, and overall organisation is generally bad from what I've heard.

    About the heat, Saudi Arabia govt has a good idea how the temperature goes during summers there. But there only suggestions are "to use umbrellas, drink plenty of water and avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest hours of the day" despite knowing very well most religious activities are done outside.

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/the-mecca-stampede-that-made-history-hajj

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      To counter, there's a fascinating breakdown of the logistics of the Hajj over at Wendover's Nebula channel - https://nebula.tv/videos/wendover-the-logistics-of-hajj - that shows otherwise from...

      It is mentioned nonchalantly however stamped during Hajj is a major concern. From the photos the place looks really claustrophobic with thousands of people standing so close, and overall organisation is generally bad from what I've heard.

      To counter, there's a fascinating breakdown of the logistics of the Hajj over at Wendover's Nebula channel - https://nebula.tv/videos/wendover-the-logistics-of-hajj - that shows otherwise from what I recall (I've since stopped my Nebula subscription as I've run out of things to watch there).

      18 votes
      1. turmacar
        Link Parent
        They perform absolutely amazing logistical feats for a place who's population grows by several orders of magnitude for a few months every year. But there is always room for improvement; and it...

        They perform absolutely amazing logistical feats for a place who's population grows by several orders of magnitude for a few months every year.

        But there is always room for improvement; and it does feel like one of the flashpoints where significant efforts are going to have to be made because of climate change. 50C is insane. More so in a crowd of millions. I don't know if the solution is enclosing and air conditioning all the significant hajj locations or what, but while any solutions will probably be straightforward, they're not going to be simple. Maybe giant shades and capturing / creating a breeze.

        ( Wendover does still put most of his stuff on youtube FWIW. I assume the video in question is named different for algorithm reasons. I keep my nebula subscription mostly for him and Patrick Willems )

        8 votes
    2. chocobean
      Link Parent
      If one were to do a lot of kneeling and prostrations outside, umbrellas are out of the question. I wonder if they could install misters so pilgrims can be in a little mini cooling cloud? Of course...

      If one were to do a lot of kneeling and prostrations outside, umbrellas are out of the question. I wonder if they could install misters so pilgrims can be in a little mini cooling cloud? Of course I don't know if that interferes with worship....

      Deaths at the Hajj are not totally uncommon, and even those outside of the fath (or outside of any) should pause to consider the conviction of someone who goes through the cost and risk to doing something of deeply cultural and spiritual meaning.

      May the pilgrims rest in a refreshing place away from hurt. And may the rest be healthy and be well during the extreme heat and the years after this as well

      6 votes
  4. [6]
    CannibalisticApple
    Link
    In a sad update: The death toll is now at 1,300. And tragically, a large majority of them were unauthorized pilgrims, a majority of whom came from Egypt.

    In a sad update: The death toll is now at 1,300. And tragically, a large majority of them were unauthorized pilgrims, a majority of whom came from Egypt.

    Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel said that 83% of the 1,301 fatalities were unauthorized pilgrims who walked long distances in soaring temperatures to perform the Hajj rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca.

    Speaking with the state-owned Al Ekhbariya TV, the minister said 95 pilgrims were being treated in hospitals, some of whom were airlifted for treatment in the capital, Riyadh. He said the identification process was delayed because there were no identification documents with many of the dead pilgrims.

    He said the dead were buried in Mecca, without giving a breakdown.

    The fatalities included more than 660 Egyptians. All but 31 of them were unauthorized pilgrims, according to two officials in Cairo. Egypt has revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies that helped unauthorized pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, authorities said.

    14 votes
    1. [5]
      Tardigrade
      Link Parent
      It's tragic that the numbers are as high as this and I can't see it getting any easier until it shifts in a few years to the slightly cooler months. I presume being buried in Mecca would be seen...

      It's tragic that the numbers are as high as this and I can't see it getting any easier until it shifts in a few years to the slightly cooler months.

      I presume being buried in Mecca would be seen as an honour? Is there anyone on here who could give better perspective?

      2 votes
      1. CannibalisticApple
        Link Parent
        This number seems to be unusually high compared to other years from what the article says. Seems like a lot of blame is going to the Egyptian travel agencies that helped send unauthorized pilgrims...

        This number seems to be unusually high compared to other years from what the article says. Seems like a lot of blame is going to the Egyptian travel agencies that helped send unauthorized pilgrims there, given Egypt itself has released statements to that effect. Given about half the recorded deaths were from Egypt, it does seem like something unusual happened with them. I wonder if one or more of the travel agencies found some way to bypass the usual security to get people inside, and then just... Left them.

        I think heat deaths will always happen, but there seem to be external factors at play this year. Either way, I hope they figure out what needs to change to prevent it from being this bad again.

        5 votes
      2. [3]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        Saudi Arabia is probably going to build more infrastructure (whether that be cooling, or just more fences to keep unauthorized pilgrims away) next year to alleviate the issue, as they already...

        Saudi Arabia is probably going to build more infrastructure (whether that be cooling, or just more fences to keep unauthorized pilgrims away) next year to alleviate the issue, as they already have. It'll cost a lot of money, but they gain immense legitimacy in the muslim world for quite literally having the religion's most holy of sites within their borders, so probably not the worst strategic use of oil profits.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          EgoEimi
          Link Parent
          I always wonder if Muslim pilgrims ponder about the ironic juxtaposition of the Great Mosque, the destination of a pilgrimage that's supposed to be about unity, humility, and equality before God,...

          but they gain immense legitimacy in the muslim world for quite literally having the religion's most holy of sites within their borders

          I always wonder if Muslim pilgrims ponder about the ironic juxtaposition of the Great Mosque, the destination of a pilgrimage that's supposed to be about unity, humility, and equality before God, next to massive, truly eye-poppingly massive, ultra-luxury hotel / shopping mall towers.

          3 votes
          1. papasquat
            Link Parent
            I'm sure they do, as many Christians ponder about the ridiculous multi million dollar mega churches made in their faith. Muslims are critical of the elements of their faith that they find...

            I'm sure they do, as many Christians ponder about the ridiculous multi million dollar mega churches made in their faith.

            Muslims are critical of the elements of their faith that they find hypocritical and not aligned to their values just as others from different religions are critical of their own.

            6 votes
  5. [4]
    joshbuddy
    Link
    So, who else reads this (and there are have been other similar stories lately) and can't help but think about Ministry For The Future? It's really disturbing, I can't be the only one.

    So, who else reads this (and there are have been other similar stories lately) and can't help but think about Ministry For The Future? It's really disturbing, I can't be the only one.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      DefinitelyNotAFae
      Link Parent
      No it definitely comes to mind though deaths at the hajj are nothing new. Not knowing the area though, since the hajj rotates around the calendar, I am wondering how bad it was the last few times...

      No it definitely comes to mind though deaths at the hajj are nothing new. Not knowing the area though, since the hajj rotates around the calendar, I am wondering how bad it was the last few times it landed during this part of June. Or if this is typically the hottest time of year. .4C per decade isn't nothing but it's absolutely going to hit worst during particular times of year.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        KapteinB
        Link Parent
        June appears to be the warmest and driest month in Mecca. The date for Hajj (in the Gregorian and other solar calendars) moves forward by 10/11 days every year; a month every three years. Heat...

        June appears to be the warmest and driest month in Mecca. The date for Hajj (in the Gregorian and other solar calendars) moves forward by 10/11 days every year; a month every three years. Heat deaths should be less of a problem in a few years, when Hajj takes place in the colder part of the year. But in the 2050s, Hajj will be taking place in the middle of summer again, and if the 0.4C increase per decade holds, the region will be a whole degree warmer by then.

        The number of Muslims is also growing fast, which likely will mean a large increase in pilgrims as well. We could be seeing death tolls by then from heat and trampling that will completely dwarf the current numbers.

        5 votes
        1. DefinitelyNotAFae
          Link Parent
          It'd be interesting if they might pause or severely limit the hajj travel during the years it occurs in June next cycle. But yeah it does seem like this is the worst time of the solar year for the...

          It'd be interesting if they might pause or severely limit the hajj travel during the years it occurs in June next cycle.

          But yeah it does seem like this is the worst time of the solar year for the lunar calendar to be in. I'm curious if the deaths were close to this bad before. But I'm definitely not asking you to dig anything else up.

          4 votes
  6. [3]
    Comment removed by site admin
    Link
    1. [2]
      GunnarRunnar
      Link Parent
      I had hoped we would've left this edginess to Reddit.

      I had hoped we would've left this edginess to Reddit.

      31 votes
      1. V17
        Link Parent
        I don't mind edginess itself if there's some point to the comment, but that one is just empty and unnecessary.

        I don't mind edginess itself if there's some point to the comment, but that one is just empty and unnecessary.

        21 votes