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Family members search for relatives as death toll reaches 900 in Saudi heat wave

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Family members search for relatives as death toll reaches 900 in Saudi heat wave

Family members have reportedly launched an online search for missing hajj pilgrims on Wednesday as death toll reached 900.

The annual religious rituals are being carried out in extreme heat this year, making it the main cause of the deaths recorded.

Loved ones are checking hospitals and pleading online for news, fearing the worst after temperatures hit 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, on Monday.

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

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 scorching heat.

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

READ ALSO: APC women leader dies during Hajj exercise in Saudi Arabia

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.

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 companions 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.

“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,” the friend said.

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