Arbaeen walk: 16 Iranian pilgrims killed in Iraq road accident

Iranian pilgrims pray as they attend the ritual of Arbaeen in Karbala city. — Reuters
Iranian pilgrims pray as they attend the ritual of Arbaeen in Karbala city. — Reuters

A road accident in northern Iraq has killed at least 16 people, mostly Iranian pilgrims, as millions of people converge on the holy city of Karbala for Arbaeen, one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings.

A traffic accident in northern Iraq has claimed at least 16 lives, the most of them Shia Iranian pilgrims in the midst of one of the largest religious gatherings in history, Arbaeen, which draws millions of people to the holy city of Karbala.

According to the state news agency INA, who cited the death toll from Khaled Burhan, the director of health services in Salaheddine province, the accident between the cities of Dujail and Samarra also resulted in the injuries of at least 13 persons.

Burhan added that the majority of the dead were Iranian tourists but did not go into detail about the crash’s causes. He stated that the injured were transferred to hospitals.

On condition of anonymity, because he was not licensed to speak to the media, a medical official in Salaheddine told AFP news agency that two minibuses collided soon before midnight on Friday.

The official stated, citing witness testimony, that it is thought that one of the drivers dozed off behind the wheel. He estimated 18 fatalities.

Since the start of Arbaeen this year, 2.6 million pilgrims—many of them from Iran—have visited Iraq either land or air, according to statistics released on Friday by the interior ministry.

The gathering marks the conclusion of the 40-day period of mourning for the death of Imam Hussein, the founder of Shia Islam and the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandson. It ends on September 6 and 7 of this year.

According to figures from the health ministry, more than 4,900 people died in road accidents in Iraq last year, or 13 on average each day.

The infrastructure of oil-rich Iraq, particularly its roads and bridges, is in poor condition as a result of conflict, neglect, and widespread corruption. Officials claim that using a phone while driving and speeding can contribute to collisions.


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