More than 30 killed in mass stampede at Iraqi Shia shrine

Rush of panicked Ashoura pilgrims after walkway collapse with the death toll expected to rise, says health ministry.

ALJAZEERA – September 10, 2019

At least 31 pilgrims were killed on Tuesday in a stampede at a major shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala as they were marking the holy day of Ashoura.

Another 100 people were injured at the site, about 100km south of the capital Baghdad, said health ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr, stressing the casualty toll was not final.

It was the deadliest stampede in recent history during Ashoura.

The deadly rush began when part of a walkway collapsed during a procession causing mass panic among worshippers.

Hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims visit Karbala in Iraq every year to commemorate the death of Hussein, Prophet Mohammad’s grandson.

He was killed in the year 680 in what would become Karbala by the forces of the Caliph Yazid, a major event that helped solidify the divide between what would become Islam’s Sunni and Shia branches.

People in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Lebanon marked the day with rallies, prayers and self-flagellation.

“Today is arguably the most important day for Shias here in Iraq,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Karbala.

“We spoke to members of the holy shrine authority earlier and they said more than three million visitors were in the city today for this event. Basically people fell over as they went round the tomb of Hussein, and the sheer number of people has resulted in many people being crushed.”

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