Arbaeen walk: 16 Iranian pilgrims lose lives in northern Iraq road incident

Minute Mirror - Subscribe
Minute Mirror - Subscribe

In northern Iraq, a tragic road accident has resulted in the loss of at least 16 lives, predominantly comprising Iranian pilgrims, during the Arbaeen pilgrimage, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings that brings millions of people to the sacred city of Karbala.

According to information from the state news agency INA, as reported by Khaled Burhan, the director of health services in Salaheddine province, the accident occurred between the cities of Dujail and Samarra and also left at least 13 individuals injured.

Burhan mentioned that the majority of the deceased were Iranian tourists but did not provide specific details regarding the causes of the crash. He stated that the injured individuals were promptly transported to hospitals for treatment.

A medical official in Salaheddine, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media, informed AFP news agency that two minibusses collided shortly before midnight on Friday. According to witness accounts, it is believed that one of the drivers may have fallen asleep at the wheel, resulting in an estimated 18 casualties.

Since the commencement of this year’s Arbaeen pilgrimage, which attracts 2.6 million pilgrims, many of whom are from Iran, Iraq has seen arrivals via both land and air, as per data released by the interior ministry on Friday.

This gathering marks the conclusion of a 40-day period of mourning for the death of Imam Hussein, the founder of Shia Islam and the great-grandson of Prophet Muhammad. It is set to conclude on September 6 and 7 this year.

Statistics from the health ministry indicated that in Iraq last year, over 4,900 individuals lost their lives in road accidents, averaging about 13 deaths per day. The country’s infrastructure, despite its oil wealth, particularly its roads and bridges, has deteriorated significantly due to conflict, neglect, and widespread corruption. Authorities have cited factors such as mobile phone use while driving and excessive speeding as contributors to such accidents.