Top Dem Mourns U.S. Couple Killed in Extreme Heat During Mecca Pilgrimage

Sarp Ozer/Anadolu via Getty
Sarp Ozer/Anadolu via Getty

Democratic Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks confirmed a Maryland couple are among the more than 1,300 people who have died in extreme temperatures during the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Alsobrooks shared the “devastating news” of the deaths of Alhaji Alieu Dausy and Haja Isatu Wurie in a statement on X over the weekend. She described the couple as “beloved members of #TeamAlsobrooks” who passed away during a pilgrimage to Mecca due to the severe heat.”

Heat Wave Torturing the U.S. Will Get Worse in Some States

“Haja Isatu Wurie was an incredibly active member of our community,” Alsobrooks wrote. “She was involved in several community organizations, making transformational impacts that were felt both locally and globally.”

“Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their families during this difficult time,” Alsobrooks added. “Their loss is profound, and they will be deeply missed.”

A spokesperson confirmed to WJZ-TV that Wurie was a volunteer for Alsobrooks’ Senate campaign. The couple’s daughter, Saida Wurie, told CNN she’d been told that her mother, 65, and 71-year-old father died on June 15 from “natural causes,” with an official with the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia explaining that “natural causes could have been due to a heatstroke,” she said. “People were saying it was over 110 degrees,” she added.

Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel confirmed 1,301 people died during Hajj this year, more than three-quarters of whom were unauthorized pilgrims who walked long distances in the blazing heat, Saudi Arabia’s state SPA news agency reported Sunday. Those without permits did not have adequate shelter to avoid the sweltering temperatures, the report added.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, meaning all Muslims who are able to do so must complete the journey to the holy city of Mecca at least once during their lives. The five-day pilgrimage, which began on June 14, saw temperatures reach a scorching 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Mecca last week.

The staggering death toll comes as more than 1,400 heat records around the world were broken in recent days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as scientists warn that deadly temperatures are likely to become more commonplace as a consequence of climate-warming fossil fuel emissions.

An expanding heat dome led to more than 100 million Americans being under extreme temperature warnings on Sunday. Some relief is expected in mid-Atlantic states on Monday while broiling heat is forecast to remain early this week in the Southeast and Southern Plains, according to the National Weather Service, which predicts possible temperatures in the low 100s.

Some areas in states including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana could face “extreme” risks from heat on Tuesday, meteorologists warn, given the expected duration of the high temperatures and the how unusual they are at this time of the year.

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