BAGHDAD: At least 31 people died and another 102 were wounded yesterday during Ashoora religious rituals in Iraq’s southern holy city of Karbala, in what officials at its Imam Hussein shrine described as a stampede.
The death toll released by the Iraqi health ministry was expected to rise, with at least nine people still in critical condition. Thirty people died on site and one more died in hospital, the ministry spokesman said.
The ministry did not disclose how they had been killed but shrine officials said the stampede took place towards the end of the procession, when thousands of pilgrims rushed towards the shrine.
“The pilgrims fell one on top of the other and we were unable to pull them out,” a pilgrim said.
Photographs circulated on social media showed dozens of people bloodied and lying across a walkway, while other pilgrims attempted to help.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi expressed his condolences to those killed in the stampede, while the health minister visited the wounded in hospital.
There were no Bahrainis among the victims, Bahrain’s ambassador to Iraq Salah Al Malki said. However, he urged Bahraini pilgrims in Karbala to remain cautious.