Five Sierra Leoneans  are confirmed to be among the pilgrims who died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Alhaji Mohamed Haji-Kella, revealed this information in a recent interview. He clarified that these individuals were American citizens of Sierra Leonean descent who carried American passports during the Hajj. The Saudi authorities attributed the deaths to the extreme heat.

“The most common cause of death reported by the Ministry of Hajj and Umra is heatstroke,” said Alhaji Haji-Kella.

This year’s Hajj was particularly dangerous due to scorching temperatures reaching up to 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade. At least 550 people have died during the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in the scorching heat, it has been reported.

The American consulate in Makkah is working with Saudi authorities to identify the bodies for proper burial or repatriation.

This tragedy highlights the growing dangers posed by rising global temperatures. A 2024 study published in the Journal of Travel and Medicine suggests that current strategies to manage heat risks during Hajj may be inadequate. Another study (Geophysical Research Letters, 2019) warns that pilgrims performing Hajj could face “extreme danger” due to increasing temperatures in Saudi Arabia caused by climate change.

While Saudi health officials initially reported no unusual number of fatalities, they did acknowledge treating over 2,700 pilgrims for heat-related illnesses during the Hajj.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the need for improved heat mitigation strategies to ensure the safety of pilgrims during Hajj.