US couple succumbs to heat stroke during Hajj, distraught daughter reveals shocking details: ‘They walked for hours’ - Hindustan Times
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US couple succumbs to heat stroke during Hajj, distraught daughter reveals shocking details: ‘They walked for hours’

ByShweta Kukreti
Jun 25, 2024 05:06 PM IST

A US couple was among the 1,300 people who lost their lives during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

A US couple was among the 1,300 people who lost their lives during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. They were identified residents of Bowie, Maryland. Before succumbing to heat stroke, Alhaji Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, and Haja Isatu Wurie, 65, both “walked for over two hours” in scorching temperatures, according to their daughter.

US couple, the residents of Bowie, Maryland, were identified as Alhaji Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, and Haja Isatu Wurie, 65.(X)
US couple, the residents of Bowie, Maryland, were identified as Alhaji Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, and Haja Isatu Wurie, 65.(X)

The temperature during this year's Hajj, which saw the participation of 1.8 million, pilgrims has surpassed 122F (50C).

Speaking to BBC, Saida Wurie said that her parents' tour operator had not delivered on several of its promises, such as enough food and beverages.

Two weeks after their arrival in Saudi Arabia, the pair, who were born in Sierra Leone, went missing on Sunday, June 16. Their distraught daughter learned about their demise a few days later.

According to Saida, her parents had paid $11,500 each to travel to the Middle East via for the Hajj, considering that it was “very important” to them. “It's something that they wanted to do their entire lives. They were beyond excited.”

Their travel was arranged with a group of almost 100 other pilgrims by an American touring firm operating out of Maryland.

Also Read: Saudi says 1,301 deaths occurred during hajj, mostly unregistered pilgrims

US couple 'walked for hours' before death

Claiming that the tour operator did not provide "a lot of the things promised" to her parents, she said: "They went a few days having to find food for themselves, even though the package was supposed to come with meals every day." She slammed the tour operator for not providing promised necessary permits and registration for the trip.

The couple informed their daughter that they were "taking it a day at a time" while making sure they keep themselves hydrated despite having minimal supplies in the sweltering weather. In their last exchange on June 15, they also informed Saida that they had been “walking for over two hours”.

US couple buried in Saudi Arabia

Later, Consulate officials and tour operator confirmed the couple's death. The US Consulate in Jeddah in a death notification to couple's family said they diedby "natural causes". The US Embassy official told Saida that heat stroke would be considered as a natural cause.

She was told that her parents had been buried, but the consular officials haven't been able to disclose the exact location of their burial.

“We did ask the Saudi government to hold the bodies in order for us to travel to Saudi Arabia to at least give them the proper burial with [their] children being present and to be able to identify the bodies,” Saida told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield. “Unfortunately, they have already been buried.”

She now intends to visit Saudi Arabia to discover her parents' burial ground.

What US govt has to say?

The US State Department acknowledged that there had been deaths of several American citizens in Saudi Arabia, but refused to comment on details regarding the Wurie family, as per CNN.

Maryland Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks in a post on X said that Haja Isatu Wurie was a very active member of her local community a campaign volunteer.

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