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Death toll surpasses 900 among Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia

The death toll from the intense heat in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimage has risen to over 900, with friends and family desperately searching for missing loved ones.

An Arab diplomat reported to Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the number of Egyptian fatalities alone has escalated to “at least 600,” up from over 300 the previous day, primarily due to the extreme heat. This brings the total reported deaths to 922, according to an AFP compilation of figures from various countries.

Approximately 1.8 million people from around the globe, including many elderly and infirm individuals, participated in the predominantly outdoor pilgrimage, which took place this year during the scorching Saudi summer.

As temperatures in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, soared to 51.8°C (125.2°F) on Monday, relatives frantically searched hospitals and flooded social media with pleas for information and photos of the missing.

Despite the severity of the situation, Saudi authorities have not released official fatality figures, although they reported over 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone.

In addition to Egypt, deaths have also been confirmed by authorities in Jordan, Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, although many did not specify the exact cause of death. A second Arab diplomat revealed that Jordanian officials were searching for 20 missing pilgrims, while 80 others previously reported missing were found in hospitals.

An Asian diplomat reported “around 68 dead” from India, with additional pilgrims missing. “Some died due to natural causes, and many were elderly pilgrims. Others are presumed to have succumbed to the harsh weather conditions,” he explained.

A recent Saudi study indicated that temperatures in the region are rising by 0.4°C each decade. Last year, over 200 pilgrims, mostly from Indonesia, were reported dead.

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