Relatives search for missing in Saudi Arabia as hajj death toll tops 900

Friends and family searched for missing hajj pilgrims on Wednesday as the death toll at the annual rituals, which were carried out in scorching heat, surged past 900.

Relatives scoured hospitals and pleaded 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, held this year during the oven-like 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 unforgiving heat.

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

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.

Searing heat


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