Saudi Arabia authorities urge pilgrims to protect themselves from extreme heat, hydrate and use umbrellas.  Authorities in Saudi Arabia have warned Hajj pilgrims to take measures to protect themselves from sweltering temperatures after Jordan reported that 14 of its citizens died of sunstroke during the annual ritual.

Citing Jordanian authorities, the BBC reported on June 17 that at least 14 Jordanian citizens have died during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia due to intense heat.

Jordan's foreign ministry reportedly said that 14 of its nationals had died "after suffering sun stroke due to the extreme heat wave" and a further 17 had been reported missing.

According to the AFP news agency, the Iranian Red Crescent confirmed that five Iranian pilgrims had also lost their lives, but did not specify how they died.

Jordanian officials said searches were continuing for those missing.

In a statement the Jordanian foreign ministry said it was coordinating with the Saudi authorities on procedures to bury or transport the bodies of the deceased, according to the wishes of their families.

Hajj, a religious requirement for all Muslims, is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world.

It is one of the five pillars of Islam along with five daily prayers, fasting, charity, and a belief in God (Allah) and in Muhammad as a prophet.

According to Saudi officials, more than 1.8 million pilgrims are taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage this year. 

The BBC notes that Hajj has a history of deadly catastrophes, including stampedes and tent fires.  But most years, the main challenge comes from intense heat.

Temperatures exceeded +46ºC last week, making many of the rituals that are performed outdoors and on foot challenging especially for the elderly.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that a treatment center near Mount Arafat recorded 225 cases of heat stress.

The pilgrimage will end on Wednesday.  Saudi officials say as part of heat mitigation measures, they have set up many climate-controlled areas.  They distribute water and offer advice to pilgrims on how to protect themselves from the sun.

The Saudi health ministry also issued an advisory, asking pilgrims to stay hydrated and avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours of the day between 10:00 and 16:00.

According to the BBC, at least 240 people died last year.  And in the worst Hajj disaster, a deadly crush in 2015 killed more than 2,000 people.