Cooling systems bring some relief amid soaring temperatures at Hajj

Water misting systems were being used near Arafat Mount in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to relieve pilgrims from the searing heat which has coincided with this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

Around Al-Rahma hill, tall columns were spraying water on pilgrims who gathered at the site for their day-long worship and reflection as part of the Hajj rituals.

With temperatures soaring to 48 degrees Celsius, it is being reported that more than a dozen people have died of heatstroke so far.

The country is expected experience extreme heat over the five-day Hajj period, and pilgrims have been gratefully accepting free water handed out along the routes between the holy sites.

“We consume lot of cold water, and we stay in the shade,” said Noureddine Al-Rifai, a pilgrim from France with Tunisian roots.

Most of the people gathered at Mount Arafat carried umbrellas, while others sat in the shadow of a few trees and buildings around Al-Rahma hill.

The Saudi authorities are urging people to be cautious.

“So far, there have been 151 cases of heat stress in Mashaer that have been dealt with directly by medical teams. Therefore, we recommend precautions,” said Health Minister, Fahad Al-Jaljel.

Officials advised pilgrims to use umbrellas and keep themselves hydrated, and to take rest periods between rituals to avoid heat fatigue.

Between being doused with water, the water misting system, and using umbrellas,  pilgrims are doing everything they can to avoid heat stroke.

Last year, more than 8,400 pilgrims were treated for heat exhaustion or heat stroke, with nearly half of them hospitalised.

All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able to do so.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed two million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.