Tue, Jul

Heat Kills 1,300 Muslim Pilgrims

Muslim pilgrims at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca last week at the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Photo: AFP via Getty Images


HEAT WAVE TRAGEDY - More than 1,300 people died this month during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, as temperatures climbed above 120°F.

  • The death toll raises questions about both the Saudi government's processes and "an underbelly of tour operators and smugglers around the world who profit off Muslims desperate to make the journey," The New York Times reports.

Roughly 2 million people make the pilgrimage to Mecca each year. Technically, a permit is required, and people who have one can access air-conditioned buses and tents.

  • But with official packages costing several thousand dollars, a large number of people try to make the trip unofficially, per the Times. Most of the pilgrims who died this month are believed to have been traveling without a permit.

This is not the first time the Hajj has turned deadly. The Saudi government does not release information about the number of deaths each year, making it nearly impossible to compare multiple years' death toll. 

 The global heat wave in photos

 (This story was first published in AXIOS.)

(Michael Allen is an American political journalist. He is the co-founder and executive editor of Axios and the former chief political reporter for Politico.)

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