Iraq holds funerals as stampede toll nears 1,000
BAGHDAD: Mass funerals were being held across Iraq on Thursday for many of the nearly 1,000 Shia Muslim pilgrims killed by a stampede on a bridge over the Tigris River.
Thousands of grieving people continued the grim search for loved ones, as bodies were still being pulled from the river and refrigerated trucks had been brought in to handle the overflow from the morgue at a nearby hospital. The death toll from the tragedy stood at 965 in what was by far the largest single loss of life in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003. Most of the dead were women, children and the elderly, who were crushed to death, trampled underfoot or drowned on Wednesday as panic swept through a massive crowd sparked by rumours of a suicide bomber in their midst. Another 815 people were injured, and some 200 remained in hospital, officials said. The stampede occurred shortly after rebel mortarfire targeted the nearby Kadhimiyah mosque, killing seven people and wounding 37, as up to three million Shias converged on Baghdad for an annual religious commemoration. afp