77 Muslims killed while performing Hajj by Saudi floods

Saudi floods

Following the heaviest rainfall in years, floods in Saudi Arabia have killed 77 people and many more could be missing.

A spokesman for the Saudi interior ministry said that there were no casualties among the millions attending the Hajj pilgrimage.

The start of the annual Muslim event in the city of Mecca was disturbed by the heavy rainstorms on Wednesday.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported that the flood deaths were in the port areas of Jeddah, Rabigh and Mecca.

Officials are quoted there as saying that the deaths had been caused by flooding and collapsed homes. Witnesses say that many victims were trapped in cars and buses.

The Associated Press quoted the Jeddah civil defence chief Abdullah al-Amri that twenty-one of the dead were Saudis and the rest were foreign immigrants resident in the country.

He said that the floods hit hard in the shantytowns all around the city.

More than three million pilgrims are drawn every year from across the globe to Mecca for the four-day Hajj pilgrimage.