American Couple Among Hundreds Who’ve Died on Religious Pilgrimage

( – An extreme heat wave is impacting many countries around the world. Saudi Arabia has seen temperatures soar past 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It was that weather that left an American couple and hundreds of others dead.

Haja Isatu Wurie, 65, and her husband, Alhaji Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, traveled to Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The city is the most religious for those who practice the Islamic faith because they believe it’s where the Prophet Muhammad was born. All Muslims who are financially and physically capable must complete the journey once in their lifetime; so every year, millions of people participate in Hajj.

Saida Wurie told reporters that her parents had a lifelong goal of completing the pilgrimage. The couple walked three miles every day in Maryland to prepare for the trip. Their daughter said they bought liquid IVs, new insoles for their shoes, and prayed.

The couple set off on June 5 and was part of a group of about 80 to 100 people. Saida said the Maryland-based tourism company, Ehajj and Umrah Tours, they hired failed them. First, the company didn’t provide them with Hajj credentials, which meant they were stuck in a hotel for days. The travel company also didn’t have sufficient transportation set up for them, even though they each paid $11,500 to ensure they had a hotel, flight, and transportation.

The pilgrimage was supposed to last until June 23 and include trips to Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. On June 16, Saida and her family received word that Alieu and Isatu were missing. They contacted the US Consulate General’s Office and eventually learned their parents’ names and passports were on a list of people who died. They passed away on June 15, and the family was told their deaths were likely heat-related.

To make matters worse, the couple was already buried by the time their family found out. The family hopes to travel to Saudi Arabia to visit their graves and pay their respects.

During the time the couple was in Saudi Arabia, the temperature hovered around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Two days after their deaths, it reached a record 125 degrees Fahrenheit. More than 1,300 people died this year during Hajj.

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