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Over 900 hajj pilgrims die in Saudi Arabia as temperatures soar

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The death toll from the Hajj pilgrimage, amid the intense heat in Saudi Arabia, has gone past 900, AFP reported.

Out of the 922 dead, 68 fatalities were from India, with the number set to rise further, the report noted citing an Asian diplomat.

The temperatures soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius in Mecca on Monday, making it extremely difficult for the approximately 1.8 million people.

About 1.8 million people from all over the world, many old and infirm, took part in the days-long, mostly outdoor pilgrimage, which fell during the hot Saudi summer this year.

An Arab diplomat told AFP that deaths among Egyptians alone had jumped to “at least 600”, from more than 300 a day earlier, mostly from the unforgiving heat.

That figure brought the total reported dead so far to 922, according to an AFP tally of figures released by various countries.

The diplomat later added that Egyptian officials in Saudi Arabia had received “1,400 reports of missing pilgrims”, including the 600 dead.

Mabrouka bint Salem Shushana of Tunisia, in her early 70s, has been missing since the climax of the pilgrimage on Saturday at Mount Arafat, her husband Mohammed told AFP on Wednesday, June 19.

Because she was unregistered and did not have an official hajj permit, she was unable to access air-conditioned facilities that allow pilgrims to cool down, he said.

“She’s an old lady. She was tired. She was feeling so hot, and she had no place to sleep,” he said. “I looked for her in all the hospitals. Until now I don’t have a clue.”

Facebook and other social media networks have been flooded with pictures of the missing and requests for information.

Those searching for news include family and friends of Ghada Mahmoud Ahmed Dawood, an Egyptian pilgrim unaccounted for since Saturday.

“I received a call from her daughter in Egypt begging me to put any post on Facebook that can help track her or find her,” said one family friend based in Saudi Arabia, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to anger Saudi authorities.

“The good news is that until now we did not find her on the list of the dead people, which gives us hope she is still alive.”

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