Tragedy Strikes Hajj Pilgrimage: Indian Death Toll Reaches 68

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Amidst scorching heat, tragedy has struck this year’s hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, claiming the lives of 68 Indian nationals, according to a diplomat speaking anonymously to AFP on Wednesday. The deaths, attributed to natural causes and harsh weather conditions, contribute to a grim total exceeding 600 fatalities overall.

Earlier reports indicated a toll of 550 deaths, predominantly from Egypt and Jordan, with many succumbing to extreme heat. Additional fatalities have been reported from Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, and Iraq’s Kurdistan region, though specific causes remain unspecified in many cases.

The Saudi Arabian government, while noting over 2,700 cases of heat exhaustion on a single day, has not disclosed official fatality figures. Concerns about high temperatures during the hajj season have been underscored by a recent Saudi study indicating rising temperatures in pilgrimage areas.

The diplomat acknowledged some Indian pilgrims are also reported missing, emphasizing that such occurrences are unfortunately not uncommon during the annual pilgrimage. As investigations continue, the toll may yet increase, highlighting ongoing challenges posed by the demanding conditions of the hajj, especially during the sweltering Saudi summer.

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