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Saudi authorities warn of possible flooding in Mecca as hajj pilgrimage reaches climax

The Muslim holy city of Mecca experienced high winds on Sunday evening [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2018

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Saudi authorities have said heavy rain that fell on Sunday could cause flooding in the city of Mecca.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia warned on Sunday of the possibility of flooding in Mecca due to heavy rain, local media outlet al-Akhbariya reported.

The Saudi Meteorology Authority said that adverse weather that has covered Mecca, Mina and Arafat could continue into the night, according to the report.

The weather warning came as around two million Muslims progressed towards the penultimate day of the hajj pilgrimage on Monday.

During Sunday night, thunderstorms and heavy rain forced pilgrims to take shelter and trudge through puddles of water. Footage broadcast by Saudi media outlets also showed high winds blowing the cloth covering of the Kaaba - the black cube-like structure that sits at the centre of the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

This year, tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage, which was struck by its worst ever disaster three years ago when around 2,300 worshippers were crushed to death in a stampede.

The Saudis have also launched a "smart hajj" initiative this year, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.

On Saturday, the interior ministry said the number of pilgrims arriving in Mecca had already surpassed the two million mark, mostly from abroad including large contingents from Egypt, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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