Over 550 pilgrims died during Hajj 2024 due to heat-wave

News Network
June 19, 2024

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An alarming rise in the frequency and intensity of heat waves, along with other ill-effects of climate change have plagued the world at large in recent years. The vice-grip of extreme heat has now affected the pilgrims of Hajj -the annual Islamic pilgrimage.

According to reports by news agency AFP, Saudi diplomats have revealed that more than 550 pilgrims lost their lives while doing the hajj this year due to heat-related issues, highlighting the arduous nature of the journey, especially under this sweltering heat.

Among the deceased, at least 323 were Egyptians. One of the diplomats stated, "All of them (the Egyptians) died because of heat" - barring one, who died from injuries sustained in a minor stampede incident due to overcrowding. Egypt's foreign ministry had earlier mentioned that they are in touch with Saudi authorities to look for Egyptians who disappeared en route to Mecca. The overall death toll was derived from the Al-Muaisem hospital morgue in Makkah.

Apart from the Egyptians, about 60 Jordanians have also died during this year's Hajj.

As per data released by concerned Saudi authorities last month, Hajj is becoming more and more impacted by climate change, with temperatures in the pilgrimage area rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius every ten years. The Saudi National Meteorological Center said that temperatures around the Grand Mosque area in Makkah reached a whopping 51.8 degrees Celsius on June 17.

Currently, over 2,000 pilgrims affected by heat exhaustion are being treated by Saudi authorities, officials have said. However, neither have they updated this tally, nor disclosed any information regarding fatalities since Sunday, June 16.

The death toll during Hajj stood at around 240 (mostly from Indonesia) the previous year.

Pilgrims in Mina, outside of Makkah, were seen dousing themselves with water from their bottles, as volunteers provided them with chilled beverages and fast-melting chocolate ice cream to help them cope with the scorching heat.

The authorities have set out advisory guidelines to the pilgrims, urging them to carry umbrellas, stay hydrated, and avoid staying under the sun during the hottest parts of the day.

Many pilgrims have also claimed to have spotted lifeless bodies lying on the side of the road on their way to the Grand Mosque; ambulance services struggled to handle the unprecedented amount of emergency situations, they said.

An estimated 1.8 million pilgrims performed the Hajj this year, with 1.6 million coming from outside Saudi. A huge number of pilgrims seek to complete the Hajj through unofficial means every year because they are unable to afford the heavy expenses required to obtain official Hajj visas.

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News Network
July 12,2024

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Microsoft has reportedly closed the email accounts of Palestinians living abroad, cutting off their access to online services used to contact relatives in Gaza amid the ongoing genocidal Israeli war.

Some Palestinians told the BBC on Thursday that their email accounts were closed without any explanation.

They added that this closure prevented them from accessing bank accounts, job offers, and the Skype application used to communicate with family members in the besieged Gaza.

“They killed my life online," said Eiad Hametto, who lives in Saudi Arabia.

"They’ve suspended my email account that I’ve had for nearly 20 years - It was connected to all my work.”

Hametto also said being cut off from Skype was a huge blow for his family.

Microsoft alleged that the affected users had violated its terms of service, but the Palestinians rejected the claim.

“We are civilians with no political background who just wanted to check on our families,” Hametto stressed. 

Salah Elsadi, who lives in the US, said that his Microsoft Hotmail account and all associated services were deactivated in April.

"I've had this Hotmail for 15 years," he said. "They banned me for no reason, saying I have violated their terms - what terms? Tell me. I've filled out about 50 forms and called them many many times."

Another Palestinian Khalid Obaied said he had paid for a package to make phone calls, but he was banned after 10 days for no reason.

"That means it's only because I’m a Palestinian calling Gaza,” he added.

Israel unleashed its brutal Gaza onslaught on October 7 after Hamas carried out its historic operation against the occupying entity in retaliation for the regime’s intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the Tel Aviv regime has so far killed at least 38,345 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in Gaza, and injured 88,295 others.

The Israeli aggression has disrupted telecommunication services (landline, mobile, and internet) in the Gaza Strip. 

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News Network
July 16,2024

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A shooting near a mosque in Oman killed at least four people and wounded several others in a rare act of violence in the Gulf nation.

The attack early on Tuesday took place in Wadi al-Kabir, a district east of the capital city, Muscat, during a major religious event for Shia Muslims.

Video from the scene shows people fleeing near the Imam Ali Mosque, its minaret visible, as gunfire rings out followed by a voice saying, “Oh God!”

Omani police said they’re taking “all necessary security measures and procedures … to handle the situation”. They gave an initial casualty toll of four killed and “several” injured.

“The authorities are continuing to gather evidence and conduct investigations to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident,” police said on social media platform X.

No motive or potential suspects were identified in the attack. A state of emergency was declared in the area.

‘Remain vigilant’

It appears some of the victims were Pakistani expats as Pakistan’s ambassador “visited three hospitals and met with the wounded”, an embassy statement said, adding, “all Pakistanis residing in Oman are requested to cooperate with the authorities”.

The US Embassy in Muscat issued a security alert following the shooting and cancelled all visa appointments on Tuesday.

“US citizens should remain vigilant, monitor local news, and heed directions of local authorities,” the embassy wrote on X.

Such an attack is rare in Oman, a frequent regional mediator with a low crime rate. It comes during the Muslim day of Ashura when Shia Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

Many Shia mark Ashura by performing a pilgrimage to Imam Hussein’s shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala. Sunni Muslims commemorate the day through fasting. 

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Agencies
July 12,2024

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New Delhi: Retail inflation increased to 5.08 per cent in June as kitchen items became dearer, according to government data released on Friday.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) based retail inflation was 4.8 per cent in May 2024 and 4.87 per cent in June 2023 (previous low).

Inflation in the food basket was 9.36 per cent in June, up from 8.69 per cent in May, according to the data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

The government has tasked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to ensure that the CPI inflation remains at 4 per cent with a margin of 2 per cent on either side.

The RBI projected the CPI inflation for 2024-25 at 4.5 per cent, with Q1 at 4.9 per cent, Q2 at 3.8 per cent, Q3 at 4.6 per cent, and Q4 at 4.5 per cent.

The central bank mainly factors in the retail inflation while deciding its bi-monthly monetary policy.

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