Ambulances remain on standby among the crowd of Iraqi pilgrims near the Kadhimiya mosque in Baghdad August 31, 2005. More than 600 Iraqi Shi'ites died in a stampede over a Tigris River bridge in Baghdad on Wednesday, panicked by rumours a suicide bomber was about to blow himself up, an Interior Ministry source told Reuters. A large crowd had been heading towards the mosque for a religious ceremony when someone yelled there was a suicide bomber among them. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)
DEBKA: Death toll rises to 1,000 in stampede caused by mortar attacks and rumored suicide bombing of a million Shiite pilgrims holding ritual procession in Baghdad
August 31, 2005, 11:35 AM (GMT+02:00)
Hundreds jumped in panic from Tigris River bridge part of which collapsed. Many drowned. Most of dead are women and children. Baghdad hospitals are overwhelmed by the casualties. But the procession at the Imam Mousa al Kadim mosque, a solemn commemoration of the death of the Seventh Imam, continued amid the chaos caused by the disaster. Shiite prime minister Jaafari declared three days mourning.
DEBKAfile: Sunni insurgents believed vented their rage at being bypassed over the constitution against the huge Shiite procession with the aim of sparking civil war by eliciting Shiite retaliation.
Lest anyone dare cast aspersion on the general character of Arab Muslims as a result of this story, Reuters is quick to point out that human stampedes are more common than one would think and occur not only at Muslim events, but at western nightclubs and sports events, among Hindus, Africans, and at Chinese New Year celebrations, etc. etc.
In fact, within thirty-some-odd minutes of reporting the actual news story, Reuters had managed to research, compose and post this winning chronology of the "worst stampedes of the 21st century." It's amazing what can be done when the motivation is so intense.
March 31, 2001 - At least 36 pilgrims are killed in a stampede at a Muslim shrine in the central Pakistani province of Punjab.
April 11 - At least 43 people are crushed to death when soccer fans stampeded as they tried to force their way into a South African stadium.
May 9 - 126 people are killed in a stampede at a soccer stadium in the Ghanaian capital Accra.
Dec. 1, 2002 - At least 36 people are killed in northern Bangladesh trying to get to clothes and money given away by a rich businessman for a Muslim festival
Feb. 17, 2003 - At least 21 people are killed in a stampede at an illegal U.S. nightclub in Chicago when they try to escape pepper spray and are crushed behind blocked doors.
Aug. 27, - Stampeding pilgrims trample at least 32 people to death, many of them elderly women, at a religious gathering in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.
Feb. 1, 2004 - A stampede kills 251 Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia during the ritual stoning of the devil at the annual Haj pilgrimage.
Feb 5 - A stampede at a Lunar New Year lantern display in China's capital Beijing kills 37.
April 12 - At least 21 women are killed in a stampede in the northern Indian town of Lucknow when supporters of a local politician began giving out free sarees to celebrate his birthday.
Jan. 25, 2005 - At least 257 Hindu pilgrims, including several women and children, are killed in a stampede near a remote temple in India's Maharashtra state.
Aug. 31 - At least
6401,000 people are killed in Iraq when a crowd of Shi'ites stampede off a bridge over the Tigris river in Baghdad