Al-Aaimmah bridge catastrophe
August 31, 2005 7:43 AM   Subscribe

More than 600 people have died in a stampede on a bridge over the Tigris River in Iraq. Set off by rumors of a suicide bomber, hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims taking a memorial pilgrimage to a Baghdad shrine panicked, leaping over the bridge and trampling others to escape.
posted by grrarrgh00 (137 comments total)
 
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posted by drezdn at 7:49 AM on August 31, 2005


The best account yet of the disaster comes from the AP, but I couldn't find a link that was not likely to rot (maybe that Guardian link will stay). Most of the dead were women and children, the AP says. They were marching to commemorate the 9th-century Muslim saint Imam Mousa al-Kadhim. Here is the Al-Jazeera report.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 7:50 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by realcountrymusic at 7:52 AM on August 31, 2005


This is a terrible tragedy.

But isn't it a little early for a Wikipedia entry? The Wikipedia isn't going to be much use as an encyclopedia if entries are made the day an event occurs based on just a few early accounts published in a few newspapers. This makes it more like a Drudereportepedia and who needs that?
posted by three blind mice at 7:55 AM on August 31, 2005


This is just horrific. The accounts are terrifying.
posted by OmieWise at 7:56 AM on August 31, 2005


I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not. Our TOP news story...
posted by spock at 7:58 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by mystyk at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2005


CNN says it's over 800 already, with over 300 wounded. It's expected to be over 1,000.

Keep in mind, as loss of life goes this is already at least ten times as bad as the hurricane on our shores. Not trying to trivialize, but people have a natural tendency to forget perspective when we have troubles close to home.
posted by mystyk at 8:09 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by dead_ at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by Mikey-San at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2005


mystyk: Let's not make that comparison quite yet. The death toll for Katrina is nowhere near complete yet. Besides, bringing it up at this stage does nothing for either tragedy.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2005


This makes me sick. The thought that it might have been a prank threat makes want to vomit. As if these people have endured enough in their lives.
posted by dios at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2005


This is amazing. That bridge just doesn't look that big.
posted by bshort at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by Hlewagast at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2005


Very sad.

This same group was already attacked by mortars earlier in the day and had deaths from that also.

Woldn't it be nice if there were no suicide bombers in Iraq? How might that be brought about? Why do they exist today?
Sadly, we already know the answers.

If only this entire debacle and all the death over had been avoided. If only...
posted by nofundy at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2005


The Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter has a dramatic photo on the front page. The link is sure to expire soon, but the hundreds of shoes.....
posted by three blind mice at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2005


We are headed for a global nervous breakdown.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by zpousman at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2005


We are headed for a global nervous breakdown.

headed?
posted by jonmc at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2005


NPR reported that some food and drink vendors poisoned their goods, leading to more deaths.

BTW, this is called a civil war.
posted by bardic at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2005


1. We're bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.

2. We're using Iraq as a "honeypot" to lure terrorists and fight them there instead of here.

Pick one.
posted by LordSludge at 8:35 AM on August 31, 2005


Can we please, please not use this tragedy as an excuse for yet another argument about the US presence in Iraq? Thank you.
posted by languagehat at 8:37 AM on August 31, 2005


This is pretty damn horrible.
posted by warbaby at 8:41 AM on August 31, 2005


For christ's sake. A tragedy just occurred to at least a 1,000 people who were gathering for a religious purpose which was caused by either the threat of terrorism or actual terrorism. This is a tragedy that has specific causes Can you please just avoid the petty, snarky politicizing of a tragedy for at least a day? They haven't even got a body count yet or know what happened and people are already grinding their axes.
posted by dios at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2005


Or, what languagehat said.
posted by dios at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by voltairemodern at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2005


Pictures on Getty - Just horrific.
posted by jalexei at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2005


Bulgarian news says the poisoning is reported on CNN. No such story on CNN's web site (at least that I can find.) Mass poisonings are very rare as terrorist acts, but are something to really worry about.
posted by warbaby at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2005


Holy shit that's a lot of people. Here are some Getty images...


posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2005


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and...what dios said.
posted by felix betachat at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2005


What a senseless tradgedy. Stampedes always horrify me, how people can become a destructive mass of panicking animals.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:51 AM on August 31, 2005


Can we please, please not use this tragedy as an excuse for yet another argument about the US presence in Iraq? Thank you.

They haven't even got a body count yet or know what happened and people are already grinding their axes.

What are the chances this would have happened had there been no invasion?

Can you please stop telling people to shut up? Once again: someone disagrees with you != trolling.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 8:51 AM on August 31, 2005


Once again: someone disagrees with you != trolling.

Correct, but someone who uses a tragedy to push their agenda is a scumbag.
posted by veedubya at 8:54 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by Stynxno at 8:56 AM on August 31, 2005


Correct, but someone who uses a tragedy to push their agenda is a scumbag.

Agreed. See 9-11.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:57 AM on August 31, 2005


Agreed. See 9-11.

Why, what's happening in November?
posted by veedubya at 9:00 AM on August 31, 2005


I was half awake when I heard the report, and I can't find a text link, but here's the story from Morning Edition.

This is a tragedy, but get over yourself if you're crying "Don't talk about politics." Mortar attack, poisonings, threats of suicide bombers at a highly charged Shiite religious festival?

Discussing context != mocking the deaths of innocent people. Wake up. Crying "Oh the humanity" over and over = willful ignorance.
posted by bardic at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2005


Can we please, please not use this tragedy as an excuse for yet another argument about the US presence in Iraq? Thank you.

A causes B. Can we stop talking about A and just focus on the tragedy of B? No.
posted by fletchmuy at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by maryh at 9:06 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by zach4000 at 9:08 AM on August 31, 2005


Sorry people... but what exactly does the . post mean? Is it kind of like the hm. sound you make when your feeling pious?
posted by zach4000 at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2005


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Can we please, please not use this tragedy as an excuse for yet another argument about the US presence in Iraq? Thank you.

That's a stupid statement to make. this terrible tragedy has everything to do with the US invasion of Iraq. A big can of worms has been opened. Maybe if George and his posse hadn't been so gung-ho this wouldn't have happened.

It's a very valid argument.

It is a terrible tragedy regardless. Being an Iraqi is a terrible tragedy at the minute.
posted by twistedonion at 9:14 AM on August 31, 2005


(zach4000)
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2005


South African news repeats the poisoning allegation, but still no details. UPI reports the poison rumor as neither confirmed nor denied.
posted by warbaby at 9:16 AM on August 31, 2005


Sorry people... but what exactly does the . post mean? Is it kind of like the hm. sound you make when your feeling pious?

It's supposed to be a moment of silence, or something like that. In this medium, you ironically have to make some kind of noise to show it.
posted by Foosnark at 9:17 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by SisterHavana at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by gaspode at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2005


Here's a link to the NPR story.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2005


How many minutes before The Jews are blamed for this tragedy?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2005


The thought that it might have been a prank threat makes want to vomit.

I don't think it's likely that this was a prank. At least not in the sense that someone would have set it off just for fun. This could have happened from miscommunication spiraling out of control. Under the circumstances, it sounds like it was a disaster waiting to happen.

I agree that it's too early to start blaming this tragedy on the US invasion, especially for those of us on the outside. However, the issue is certain to come up. Ultimately, whoever we outsiders blame the stampede on matters far less than who the Iraqi public blames for this tragedy. It may be that those who would blame this on the US already blame the invasion for all of their troubles. Many will blame the tragedy on the Sunni insurgents, and the civil war will intensify. In any event, this undermines what little faith exists in the ability of the US and the current government to maintain order.

God rest the souls of the deceased.
posted by Loudmax at 9:23 AM on August 31, 2005


Look, this is EXACTLY what Bush means when he talks about "taking the fight to the terrorists". We're fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here.

This is all according to plan.
posted by LordSludge at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2005


The LA Times (reg req or bugmenot.com) reports many of the dead suffocated and the bodies were blue. This may explain the apparent confusion because the blueness is called "cyanosis" but it comes from lack of oxygen, not necessarily poison. The medical diagnosis could easily get garbled into "cyanide" and then the echo chamber would just spread the noise.
posted by warbaby at 9:27 AM on August 31, 2005


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ParisParamus: Uhm, what?
posted by loquacious at 9:29 AM on August 31, 2005


Trampling is absolutely terrifying. While celebrating New Year's on the Vegas Strip, someone set off a smoke bomb. Someone else started yelling "TEAR GAS! TEAR GAS!" and there was a brief panic. Everyone was pushing and moving the other way. I had no control over my movement. Someone stepped on my shoelace and I could not lift my leg, yet people were still pushing against me. Thankfully, the stampede stopped almost immediately.

I was thinking these Iraqis must be stupid to stampede 700 people like this, but then I remembered my own experience, and when you throw in the fact that there were MORTAR ATTACKS earlier at the same place, you can call the panic justified.

I will say this though: westerners are definitely better at event planning and avoiding this kind of behavior. Thank God we prefer people to stay at least arm's reach from us. Easterners like to pack in like sardines.
posted by b_thinky at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by cookie-k at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2005


this terrible tragedy has everything to do with the US invasion of Iraq.

This is why I don't go to church.
posted by a3matrix at 9:31 AM on August 31, 2005


Death by Human Stampedes at Crowd Dynamics, Ltd., analysts of crowd behavior and disasters.

If the death toll is accurate, this could be one of the worst stampedes in history. All of us are exposed to this risk at subways, sports events, concerts, schools, theaters, clubs, and shopping malls. Be prepared with some crowd safety tips and a free downloadable book (1.41 mb PDF, registration required).
posted by cenoxo at 9:31 AM on August 31, 2005


Hmm, a key part of my comment is missing. What happened there I wonder?

Oh well. Saying that the invasion of Iraq is the cause of this is a bit of an over simplification.
posted by a3matrix at 9:33 AM on August 31, 2005


This could have happened from miscommunication spiraling out of control.

Doesn't look like it was only a rumour that caused the panic:

Earlier, mortar rounds had been fired into the crowd, killing at least seven people.
About 36 others were injured when four mortar rounds landed close to the Kadhimiya mosque.
A Sunni group said it carried out the mortar attacks, according to a statement posted on a website frequently used by groups linked to al-Qaeda.

... Iraqi Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaim said that the only people to die at the hands of insurgents were the seven killed in the mortar attack.

"What happened has nothing at all to do with any sectarian tension," he said live on Iraqi TV.
posted by funambulist at 9:34 AM on August 31, 2005


"It was Saddamists and Zarqawists who spread ruours on the bridge and that is why people panicked," national security advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie told the television.

Is this true? How can they be sure of this? Do they have the rumor-mongers in custody? It seems like it'd be difficult to catch them, right?

Also, regarding the poisoning: people were poisoned and then trampled? Is anyone else confused?
posted by b_thinky at 9:35 AM on August 31, 2005


Also, something like this was probably destined to happen eventually (when Saddam fell), regardless of the war.

Shiites make up a majority of Iraq and Saddam banned them from taking part in this event. Shiites were bound to take control after Saddam's regime, which would piss off the Sunnnis and no doubt lead to shit like this.

Yeah, the war is a mess, but personally I think we should be blaming the stone-age triibalism mentality of the Iraqis for this shit more than W. Just my opinion.
posted by b_thinky at 9:41 AM on August 31, 2005


Lordsludge: This is all according to plan.

Unbelievable.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2005


That's a stupid statement to make. this terrible tragedy has everything to do with the US invasion of Iraq. A big can of worms has been opened. Maybe if George and his posse hadn't been so gung-ho this wouldn't have happened.

True, and maybe a bunch of kids wouldn't have been blown up by a suicide bomber a few weeks back, either : >

Clearly, there is no time to lament this as first and foremost a human tragedy. THE U.S. MUST BE BLAMED!
posted by pardonyou? at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2005


There have actually been worse stampedes than this at similar Islamic religious gatherings, in Mecca - you get a list in that BBC link. This is the first time there's been firing into the crowd and panic related to suicide bombers.
posted by funambulist at 9:48 AM on August 31, 2005


What a horrible way to punch out.
posted by fenriq at 9:49 AM on August 31, 2005


What are the chances this would have happened had there been no invasion?

Probably zero. I don't think Saddam Hussein allowed Shiites to gather in such numbers, but I could be wrong.
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:51 AM on August 31, 2005


Here's a link to the NPR story.

Sorry, this is the same link as bardic's.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:53 AM on August 31, 2005


Isn't it possible to grieve for the human tragedy and begin thinking about why it happened and if it could have been prevented? Or does questioning causality mean you're a heartless bastard?
posted by NationalKato at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2005


(that's a bold and, btw)
posted by NationalKato at 9:59 AM on August 31, 2005



posted by Pendragon at 10:05 AM on August 31, 2005


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posted by agregoli at 10:16 AM on August 31, 2005


bthinky -- the most recent information indicates that NOBODY was poisoned. It's most likely a BOGUS RUMOR.
posted by warbaby at 10:19 AM on August 31, 2005


Kinder, gentler maybe, but I guess ParisParamus never said anything about stopping trolling.
posted by furtive at 10:22 AM on August 31, 2005


I don't think Paris is trolling. I think he has a genuine chip on his shoulder re: anti-semitism.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:23 AM on August 31, 2005


That's a stupid statement to make. this terrible tragedy has everything to do with the US invasion of Iraq. A big can of worms has been opened. Maybe if George and his posse hadn't been so gung-ho this wouldn't have happened.

You're right. It's definitely worthwhile to turn this thread into a Xerox of the last thousand arguments about Iraq. Maybe those people wouldn't have died if only we argued a little louder here at MeFi, control center of the universe. I don't know what I was thinking.
posted by languagehat at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2005


I don't think Paris is trolling. I think he has a genuine chip on his shoulder re: anti-semitism.

I think so too, but he's still pushing it. I'm more and more dubious about his sincerity in that MeTa thread.
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2005


Paris is his usual insane self -- it's one of the most endearing traits of his Internet personality. let PeePee act like he always does, he can't help it. I am more surprised that intelligent grownups here have the chutzpah to try to sell the argument that it should be forbidden to mention the (unimortant, of course) fact of the US presence in Iraq.

because, of course, it's a coincidence that Iraq is full of people so terrified of a possible suicide attack that they'd start a deadly stampede. just a coincidence, yes Sir. let's pretend this is just, you know, a earthquake.
or a hurricane, OK?
posted by matteo at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2005


It's true this wouldn't have happened without the U.S. liberation of Iraq. The reason? Because under Saddam such a gathering wouldn't have been permitted to take place to begin with. Ahhh... the good old days.

(Is this the kind of vapid and degrading conversation you people really think we should be having now when they are still counting the dead? I am revolted by people who see every issue through their lense of politics. There is a human tragedy here. If you initial response to such pointless death is "well, this is Bush's fault; I need to make that point," then I hope that God has mercy on your black heart.
posted by dios at 10:42 AM on August 31, 2005


Or, again, what languagehat said. Let me just have a standing "ditto" of things he says in this thread.
posted by dios at 10:44 AM on August 31, 2005


I'll give you guys a dollar if you stop fighting. Please?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:47 AM on August 31, 2005


Bush liberated Iraq so they could be free to stampede and kill each other without guns or bombs, isn't freedom wonderful? Is this the spreading Freedom and Democracy part or the Masterplan part?

And Paris, yeah, apparently they aren't serving pudding in this lifetime. How many days did you go before reverting to your default inflammatoriness?
posted by fenriq at 10:53 AM on August 31, 2005


cenoxo writes "Be prepared with some crowd safety tips and a free downloadable book (1.41 mb PDF, registration required)."

I don't need a 1.41mb PDF to tell me the obvious: stay the hell away from large, pressed crowds.
posted by clevershark at 11:01 AM on August 31, 2005


then I hope that God

torture lovers who have the gall to lecture others about God deserve to be judged by a God who's revengeful beyond human comprehension
posted by matteo at 11:03 AM on August 31, 2005


The signal-to-noise ratio of this place went to hell the day mefi-killfile stopped working...
posted by clevershark at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2005


Is this the kind of vapid and degrading conversation you people really think we should be having now when they are still counting the dead?

The list of reasons why we should not speak about politics seems to grow every day.

How about you let us know when we're allowed to discuss politics and it won't offend you. Every thread now seems to have it's own little moderator who wants to steer it their way. How about this, why don't you fuck off and let us talk?
posted by milovoo at 11:12 AM on August 31, 2005


A stampede during the 1990 حَج / Hajj killed 1402 people.

Soccer stampedes, while usually much less quantitatively fatal, are a lot more frequent and add up to a sizable numbers over the decades.

I was trapped in a stampede in London during one of the early 1990s urban riots when the cops fired tear gas. It is a weird feeling when your feet leave the ground and you are reduced to mere Brownian motion within the mass of a crowd. Once that happens, it's really just dumb luck as to whether you end up on top of or on the bottom of the pile.
posted by meehawl at 11:13 AM on August 31, 2005


I've had CNN on for a while and haven't seen anything about this. It's all Katrina, all the time.

Also, something about the politicization of this event in this thread is vaguely distasteful. Why does the U.S. presence in Iraq automatically implicate it in everything bad that happens there? Just because the U.S. has created a mess of Iraq (and a condition in which the rumor of a bomb is automatically credible) doesn't mean they are the direct cause of the stampede. It sure wouldn't stand up in court, anyway.

Also, I don't think political discussion is the problem here, because as far as I can tell, there hasn't been any.
posted by swift at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2005


If we don't point to consequences as reasons for not doing bad things, then what's to stop us from doing them again? Is there some sort of measure of tragedy that says things below this line can be used to argue against the war and things above this line can't?

How does keeping silent about a tragedy honor the dead? How respectful is it to say "we're sorry you're dead but let's not talk about how your death may have been avoidable"?
posted by sineater at 11:21 AM on August 31, 2005


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Whenever thousands of people get together, for any reason, there are risks. Those risks are obviously far greater in the middle of a quasi-civil war.

The people who took part in this religious pilgrimage understood the risk, and chose to make their religious statement anyway. This willingness to risk death for religious merit is a big part of Islam, both Sunni and Shia, and shouldn't be underestimated.

The fact that people are firing mortars into crowds, and yet the crowd continues with the procession, is an amazing statement about courage. And about anger.

The wasp's nest that Bush has poked his stick into is starting to buzz. If the Shiite people respond to this by hunting down Sunnis, we could have another bloodbath on the scale of Rwanda. I hope the Shiites in the Iraqi government manage to keep a lid on it - it sounds like they're trying.

dios's posts here are so accidentally self-reflective it's almost, kind of, amusing - while remaining fundamentally perverted and sick. I'm beginning to think dios and ParisParamus may be actually paid by the Republican party to post here and derail intelligent discussion.
posted by cleardawn at 11:22 AM on August 31, 2005


Also, I don't think political discussion is the problem here, because as far as I can tell, there hasn't been any.

True, we seem to be in the age of the pre-shoutdown with all the "I know what you are going to say and I don't want you to say it." and "I find this inappropriate" It makes me sick. If you have any respect for anyone else here at mefi, let the discussions happen as they will and put away your junior moderators hat. If something needs to be moderated have faith that it will be, or if you are not patient enough send some mail to matt or jessamyn.
posted by milovoo at 11:27 AM on August 31, 2005


so accidentally self-reflective it's almost, kind of, amusing - while remaining fundamentally perverted and sick.

Spend some time reading what the average European intellectual was saying about 80 years ago. The only difference between that and the "conservative" rhetoric of America today is the specifics of the tropes used; you could create a mad-lib of pathological political thought.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2005


It's more complicated than Shiite vs. Sunni--there's a split within the Shiites as well. The poisoning might be bogus, but the fact that such a rumor could spread says something about the tension level.

Can we agree that this is a human tragedy with pretty awful political consequences re:trying to prevent a civil war that might have already started? The grousing about discussing politics is pathetic--should we all just put our "." in and go back to watching Oprah?
posted by bardic at 11:35 AM on August 31, 2005


For being a birthplace of civilization Iraq seems to have drifted far from it, and I am not just referencing the last three years. Or ten.
Some of the more crass comments have roots in a very objective reality. Consider, Sadam might have just had the entire crowd shot. And then their family members at home just to make sure the point was understood.
posted by buzzman at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2005


The reason people tend to ask why about tragedies such as this is so that they can be prevented in the future. It seems to me that if all the advocates for "let's not talk about why" really cared about the well-being of Iraqis there would be outrage at this incident followed by questions. Why are the rebels able to suicide bomb Baghdad at will? Why was there no increased security (both American and Iraqi) at this site to make the crowd feel safer? What will be done to make sure this doesn't happen again next month or again during Ramadan? Iraq is a disaster. Maybe when that point finally sinks in there can be serious discussion about how to fix it. Until then, we've naught to expect but more of the same.
posted by nixerman at 11:40 AM on August 31, 2005


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Im just hoping like hell that this isnt the spark that pushes the definition of the current Iraq Civil war from 'pending' into 'full scale' mode. The bridge apparently links the Sunni and Shite parts of Bagdad.

And if the US regime change set up this situation, hell yeah it should be discussed and dissected accordingly - we OWE it to those who died, so that this sort of fuckup dosent happen on the USA's watch again.

This is a man made disaster, dont bother trying to paint it as an act of nature.
posted by rawfishy at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2005


The new Iraqi Minister of Information now informs you that what happened has nothing at all to do with anything. And whatever you say, don't mention the war.
posted by funambulist at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2005


My god.

Simply awful. I have see these things happen. It is so scary. You try to yell for people to calm down and it just ads to the clamor. It's pretty much every man for him self.

Bush liberated Iraq so they could be free to stampede and kill each other

Mefi - be better than this. This could of happened ANYWAY. It has happened at the Haj. It happens at soccer games al the time.

So now America is to be blamed for the irrational crowd panic reflex? WTF? I guess Thatcher was to blame for the stampede at the Who concerts? What a load of bullshit.

And yeah. You can be free to say it. But you should also know it is complete and utter crap. An I am free to tell you so.
posted by tkchrist at 12:00 PM on August 31, 2005


~
posted by aerify at 12:03 PM on August 31, 2005


tkchrist, the problem is that rumors of a suicide bomber are what triggered the crowd's panic. Why does Iraq exist in such an extreme state of fear that panics like this can happen? Why was the bridge mortared just a few minutes ago? As an American, you have to wonder: Hey, how the hell did this happen? The government keeps telling us things are getting better in Iraq. If we want to prevent this from happening again--and it is preventable--we should ask those questions.
posted by nixerman at 12:05 PM on August 31, 2005


tk, you're also free to read the thread. Mortar fire from insurgents is what kicked off this horrible event.
posted by bardic at 12:05 PM on August 31, 2005


Can anyone confirm whether this pilgirmage has only started again since Sadam went down or was he tolerating it previously (couldnt see it on the wikipedia page) .

A million(?) people is a hell of a lot of to come to the first run of a pilgrimage.
posted by rawfishy at 12:20 PM on August 31, 2005


from a CNN article on this: Wednesday's ceremony is one that annually attracts millions of Shiite pilgrims to Baghdad.

So no it's not a first run.
posted by funambulist at 12:35 PM on August 31, 2005


the problem is that rumors of a suicide bomber are what triggered the crowd's panic.

So what? So what if it was The Rolling Stones helicopter. You can't blame the America for the crowd stampeding eachother. Blame the guys who started the rumor. So. The guy who shot my grandma was beaten by HIS grandma. It it her fault or his?

BLAMING the US won't prevent this from happening again. And you guys know it.

Mortar fire from insurgents is what kicked off this horrible event.

I have not read that or heard that anywhere? Is there confirmation of this?
posted by tkchrist at 12:47 PM on August 31, 2005


clevershark: I don't need a 1.41mb PDF to tell me the obvious: stay the hell away from large, pressed crowds.

Agreed: I try to stay out of big crowds, but you can't avoid them all. You—or yours—never know when, where, how, or why a stampede may occur.
posted by cenoxo at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2005


Hey, how the hell did this happen? The government keeps telling us things are getting better in Iraq.

First off even a scan of my posting history (minus the trolls) would show how I feel about this war and Bush's inept prosecution of it. Second. The people to blame are the fucking people who shot off the mortar round.

Period. Iraq war=bad. Insurgents bombing people=bad. They CAN exist exclusive to each other, you know.

If it had been US Troops firing the mortar you would have more of case and I would be more inclined to agree.
posted by tkchrist at 12:51 PM on August 31, 2005


Amazing that terrorists don't even need bombs any more...I'm sure Al-Qaeda is taking notes.
posted by hellbient at 1:00 PM on August 31, 2005


"I have not read that or heard that anywhere?"

tkchrist, you really could have read the thread first, or even the news, it's in every story. There were insurgents who attacked people in the crowd earlier on killing several of them.
Also again from CNN:
The tragedy came amid an atmosphere of general tension in the capital and throughout the society -- daily warfare across the nation, suicide bombings that had been rife in the capital, the continual tensions between Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs, and an attack in the same area in March 2004 during the Ashura commemoration, another Shiite holy period.

Al-Dulaimi -- who spoke at a press briefing later with Interior Minister Bayan Jabr -- stressed that the security had been tight in Baghdad and in southern cities around the so-called Triangle of Death for the Shiite pilgrims heading to the capital.

They pointed to a number of security actions that helped keep order, such as the foiling of car bombings and suicide attackers and the disarming of improvised explosive devices. In one case, an Afghan insurgent headed toward Kadhimiya was killed.
posted by funambulist at 1:05 PM on August 31, 2005


from a CNN article on this: Wednesday's ceremony is one that annually attracts millions of Shiite pilgrims to Baghdad.

So no it's not a first run.


From the Second link: Banned during Saddam Hussein's regime, such public Shiite religious observances have drawn vast crowds since his 2003 routing by U.S. forces.

So, somewhat of new thing or recently resumed anyway.
posted by milovoo at 1:18 PM on August 31, 2005


Iraq war=bad. Insurgents bombing people=bad. They CAN exist exclusive to each other, you know.

It's no longer about the decision of war now, it's about its consequences and the management of the situation as of today. What can coexist is blaming insurgents directly responsible for killing people and acknoweldging the responsibilities that have contributed to their being able to do so on a massive scale day in day out and contributed also to sectarian violence and terrorism becoming a daily reality. It's absurd to separate the two even if you were in favour of the war, in fact, even more so. Yes the stampede in itself in theory could have happened even without the general situation surrounding it, as other similar incidents have happened in Saudi Arabia too, but we're not talking of a theoretical incident or another incident in another country in another time.

Iraqi Health Minister Abdel Mutlib Ali blamed the tragic incident on the U.S. forces as well as the Iraqi ministers of defense and interior because they failed to take the appropriate security measures to protect the pilgrims.

"Every Iraqi will demand holding the occupation forces and the ministers of defense and interior responsible for the security, seeing they were aware of the ceremony date," said Ali, noting the concerned ministries should have taken "security precautions ... and guarantee safe passageways" for the thousands of Shiite pilgrims.

Ali said the Iraqi Health Ministry took some measures but was not expecting "such big losses." The minister however refused to confirm reports that some died because of poisoned food and drinks offered to them by "suspected terrorists" while on their way to the sacred shrine.
posted by funambulist at 1:29 PM on August 31, 2005


milovoo: thanks, I hadn't spotted that. Makes sense...
posted by funambulist at 1:32 PM on August 31, 2005


Funam - I did read the article and the thread and that is one of the most egregious uses of selective quoting I have seen since watching the O'Riely Factor once four years ago.

What CNN said, right at the top of the article, was:

"Three hours earlier, an insurgent mortar attack near the Kadhimiya mosque killed seven people and wounded 36 others."

So three HOURS earlier. So the mortar attack was not on the bridge precipitating the stampede itself as you implied. Obviously three hours earlier people felt safe enough to continue to the mosque, no?

Anyway. It was the guy who started the rumor that is first in line for blame. Then the insurgents. Then... aw god what's the use. What the hell am I arguing this bullshit for? Yeah. Ok. It WAS America's fault. And on behalf of all of America I am deeply sorry. We good now? What the fuck do you want?
posted by tkchrist at 1:37 PM on August 31, 2005


What can coexist is blaming insurgents directly responsible for killing people and...

Hold it right fucking there. Not one of you used "and" - it was "Bush" and "America" snarking. Don't back out of what you guys said.

Every Iraqi will demand holding the occupation forces and the ministers of defense and interior responsible for the security...

Excuse me? Which is it? We are to blame because we are there? Or because we are not there? Or... make up your fucking minds.

Some of you seem almost GLEEFUL this shit happens just so you can say "I told you so" and go nya nya nya at America. It's fucking sick. Seriously sick.

I am willing to have Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld put in front of a firing squad. Seriously. But for the things they have actually DONE.
posted by tkchrist at 1:43 PM on August 31, 2005


You're projecting. Who here sounds gleeful?
posted by bardic at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2005


You're projecting.

Go fuck yourself.

Please continue with the America-hating pig-pile, though. Make sure to pat your selves on the back when your done too.
posted by tkchrist at 1:59 PM on August 31, 2005


.
posted by peacay at 2:01 PM on August 31, 2005


make up your fucking minds.
there are 109 comments here, not all of them by the same person.
posted by hellbient at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2005


You won't be able to understand the situation here until you consider the history of Europe's colonization of the middle east. Today's event wouldn't have happened if the British didn't oust the Turks.

posted by kookywon at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2005


didn't let me have the /sarcasm tag.
posted by kookywon at 2:03 PM on August 31, 2005


tkchrist: yes indeed the mortar attacks were earlier, doh, it's in the news stories right there, no one ever implied that is what started the stampede, well I certainly didn't. Egregious quote what? the full article is right there in the link I included. The idea is those attacks from insurgents, along with the general situation, contributed to people panicking when rumours of a suicide bomber spread. I'm not the one saying this out of my own imagination, it's what is being reported, for goodness's sake.

Hold it right fucking there. Not one of you used "and" - it was "Bush" and "America" snarking. Don't back out of what you guys said.

I'm not "you guys" if you don't mind. I am a collective of one and speaking for myself. I provided you with an answer to your request of confirmation of something you said you hadn't heard of, and simply replied to a comment of yours, and my point was not that I think the US are responsible for the stampede nyah nyah nyah what a great occasion for US bashing, there are so few these days; no, point is, even if a stampede that resulted in the death and injury of so may people could have happened anyway regardless of the political situation, I don't see how you can completely dissociate the presence of insurgents and terrorism and the climate it creates from the responsibility of those in charge of the country. And I quote that last UPI article just to show that there is a feeling there was a lack of security precisely in this incident too, not just in general. It's not my opinion or imagination, again, it's what is quoted from sources in Iraq including even a minister of said government. I just think before everyone starts saying what is or isn't "acceptable" as reaction to tragedies occurring in other countries perhaps it's not so unwise to take into consideration the reactions of people in those countries who have been living there all their lives. I wouldn't have thought that too was such an outrageous concept.
posted by funambulist at 2:20 PM on August 31, 2005


From the OpinionJournal.com e-mail I just received:

Shiite Stampede
The Associated Press brings us horrific news from Baghdad:

Trampled, crushed against barricades or plunging into the Tigris River, more than 700 Shiite pilgrims died Wednesday when a procession across a Baghdad bridge was engulfed in panic over rumors that a suicide bomber was at large.

Most of the dead were women and children, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said. It was the single biggest confirmed loss of life in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.

For some reason, the AP doesn't mention what the biggest loss of life in Iraq before the invasion was.

posted by ParisParamus at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2005


Go fuck yourself.

Whoa. Dude, step away from the keyboard and maybe buy a slurpee or something.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2005


This is really dissolving into a large mass of finger pointing.

If this was set in ?hypothetical land? instead of Iraq, wouldn't it be interesting to see what would happen if all the troops started heading home tomorrow? Would the newly armed Iraqi armies/militias/defense forces all turn on each other? Would oil begin to flow without separate clans (Hatfields? McCoys?) blowing up the pipelines as it crossed there (sic) lands?

No wonder so many of their doctors, scientists, artists (egh, my homage to the humanities), and professors want nothing but to get out and leave the place. It is going to end up being another bizarro land with a singular resource, controlled by dictators.
posted by buzzman at 2:35 PM on August 31, 2005


For those still interested in the story itself - seems accounts actually differ on what started the stampede:
"When people heard that the mosque had been attacked, they panicked and rushed toward the bridge to get out of the area,' Iraqi National Assembly adviser George Sada said earlier in the day by telephone from the Iraqi capital. "There were so many people on the bridge that many fell over its sides and drowned in the Tigris, others were crushed.' Other accounts said people in the crowd reacted to rumors of a suicide bomber among them.

... The stampede was triggered by an attack near the Khadimiya shrine about a mile from the bridge, where Imam al-Khadim was buried, according to Sada. Seven people were killed in the mosque attack as rebels fired Katyusha rockets and mortars at the building, Interior Minister Bayan Jabor told the televised news conference.

Thirty-three people were wounded in the assault on the shrine, Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdel Rahman said earlier by telephone. An al-Qaeda-linked group, calling itself the Army of the Victorious Community, claimed the attack in a statement posted on the Internet, Agence France-Presse reported.
And regardless of what anyone thinks here, the incident is a political issue in Iraq and is having political consequences:
"Who fired the mortars? Who spread panic among pilgrims on the bridge?' AFP cited Health Minister Abdul Mutalib Mohammad Ali as saying. Ali called for the resignation of the Interior and Defense Ministers whom he blamed for the incident, AFP reported.
posted by funambulist at 2:47 PM on August 31, 2005


At least 965 people are dead.

.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
posted by Vidiot at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2005


This is really bad.
posted by warbaby at 3:04 PM on August 31, 2005


.
posted by moonbird at 4:24 PM on August 31, 2005


I wouldn't have thought that too was such an outrageous concept.

It's not. But the quote your selecting seemed to be trying to lend credibility to the "blame America for everything" POV peppered so liberally through out this thread. And I'm sorry. Fix the blame for these things on the people who comitt them.

It's possible - no likely - that that minister quoted may have his own agenda, right? For gods sake most of these guys are petty little wanna-be's just slavering to take the riegns of power or positioning themselves for the civil war to come.

So back to reality. Right? This god-awful thing has happened. So. How can we help these people?
posted by tkchrist at 4:39 PM on August 31, 2005


tk. we are already helping them to the max by being in Iraq.
Someday you'll realize that the same idiots blaming the US for this tragedy have mislead you on the Iraq War overall.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:47 PM on August 31, 2005


This just in from the NYSun.com Blog:

Breaking News
Poison Gas?

A reliable source tells me the deaths in Iraq may not be a stampede but rather some kind of poison gas attack. The American military has been tasked to help with autopsies which would help determine causes of death authoritatively.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2005


If that's true PP, it means the biggest single-event death count before the invasion and after the invasion were the result of the same cause. It's great how much we've managed to improve the country.
posted by Jimbob at 6:00 PM on August 31, 2005


Jimbob, I'm glad President Bush and the Pentagon don't have the event-horizon you do. Hell was not transformed into a normal place in a few months, or even years.

I think what separates us is your failure to realize what awaited the world five or ten years down the road if Saddam wasn't taken out. Maybe I've been following Mideast fascism more closely than you have. Someone had to start draining the swamp. That's begun, but it will take a while to see the effects. The President and his aids are not dopes.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:50 PM on August 31, 2005


make that aides.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:50 PM on August 31, 2005


.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:56 PM on August 31, 2005


Someone had to start draining the swamp.
Saddam beat everyone to it.

posted by Cassford at 9:50 PM on August 31, 2005


Metafilter: slavering to take the riegns of power.

PP - I wouldn't normally, but I have to ask: when exactly did Hell become a normal place, and how long did it take? This could provide valuable data for the project in Iraq. As I understand it, around 1970 years have passed since the harrowing of Hell - would you say that it is now a normal place? Does this provide us with an effective if extremely large roadmap for Iraq? K thx bye.

Back at the actual topic - so, the suggestion that this stampede was caused by insurgents spreading rumours of a suicide bombing may have been originated by the Ministry of the Interior, and was certainly propagated by Iraqi government sources. Jack Straw, bless him, has endorsed if not quite this aetiology then at least any one that blames the insurgency. The US Embassy has expressed condolences but is so far reluctant to line up behind this explanation. Since the other likely explanation is inept preparation and policing on the part of the Iraqi authorities, a handy hole of shared lack-of-responsibility may be being dug.
posted by tannhauser at 2:49 AM on September 1, 2005


Metafilter: when exactly did Hell become a normal place?
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:13 AM on September 1, 2005


PP - thanks ever so much for restarting the BOGUS poison rumor again. Read the thread, ninny. Your anonymous "reliable source" is as uninformed as you are.

Wanker.
posted by warbaby at 6:45 AM on September 1, 2005


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