Maryland couple dies during extreme heat on Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

Updated

BALTIMORE - A Maryland couple was among the more than 1,300 people who died during extreme heat at the Hajj pilgrimage in the Middle East.

U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks confirmed in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that Alhaji Alieu Dausy and Haja Isatu Wurie died during a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Alsobrooks said the couple were both actively involved in their community. The woman was a volunteer for Alsobrooks' campaign, a spokesperson confirmed.

"Alhaji Alieu Dausy and Haja Isatu Wurie passed away during a pilgrimage to Mecca due to the severe heat," Alsobrooks said in a statement. "Haja Isatu Wurie was an incredibly active member of our community. 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. Their loss is profound, and they will be deeply missed."

The couple from Bowie is believed to have died of heat stroke in 110+ degree temperatures in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

"All we know is that it was natural causes and someone from the U.S. Embassy advised the natural causes could have been due to heat stroke, which based on the temperature, people were saying it was 110 degrees," their daughter Saida Wurie told CNN. "There are millions of people and they have to walk long hours. It was more than likely it was heat stroke for both of my parents."

All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. Many wealthy Muslims make the pilgrimage more than once. According to the Quran, Islam's holy book, the rituals largely commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail, Ismail's mother Hajar and Prophet Muhammad.

According to CBS News, the Hajj, the timing of which is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, fell again this year during the oven-like Saudi summer.

Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to perform the hajj through irregular channels as they cannot afford the often costly official permits, CBS News says.

This group was more vulnerable to the heat because, without official permits, they could not access air-conditioned spaces provided by Saudi authorities for the 1.8 million authorized pilgrims to cool down after hours of walking and praying outside.

Saida Wurie said her parents saved up their life savings for this excursion.

"They saved their life savings, I think it was about $11,500 per person, that they saved their entire lives to embark on this journey," she said. "They didn't receive the proper preparation and proper documents. It was just a nightmare experience of a trip."

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