BEIRUT — While the world watches New Orleans drown, Baghdad has seen the single greatest loss of life when thousands of Shi’ite pilgrims “panicked on a bridge”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050831/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq over the Tigris and stampeded after rumors flew among the crowd that two suicide bombers were in the midst.
Almost 650 people are dead and hundreds wounded. They drowned in the river and suffocated on land.
“We were on the bridge. It was so crowded. Thousands of people were surrounding me,” said survivor Fadhel Ali, 28, barefoot and soaking wet after swimming in the river. “We heard that a suicide attacker was among the crowd. Everybody was yelling so I jumped from the bridge into the river, swam and reached the bank. I saw women, children and old men falling after me into the water.”
Health Minister Abdul-Mutalib Mohammed told state-run Iraqiya television that there were “huge crowds on the bridge and the disaster happened when someone shouted that there is a suicide bomber on the bridge.”
“This led to a state of panic among the pilgrims and they started to push each other and there was many cases of suffocation,” he said.
Just horrible. I don’t have any words for this, but the Iraqis don’t deserve this. They’ve been through so much already.
I’ll be back in Baghdad next week.