Muslim pilgrims holding white umbrellas against the blazing sun clambered up a rocky desert hill for prayers on Thursday during the annual Haj, following a day of torrential rains that killed at least 77 people. Flooding from the unusually heavy downpours hit hardest in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, about 60 km away from the holy city of Makkah and its surrounding sacred sites where three million Muslims from around the world were performing the rites of the pilgrimage.

Most of the deaths occurred in Jeddah, where streets were swamped with water, some houses collapsed and mud slips took place, and in areas around the main highway to Makkah. It did not immediately appear that any pilgrims were among the dead. Jeddah’s civil defence chief said 21 of the victims were identified as Saudi Arabians and the rest were believed to be residents of Saudi Arabia.

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