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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Mass burials for stampede victims
Coffin of victim
The stampede led to the worst loss of life in Iraq since the invasion
Large crowds have been attending mass funerals in the Iraqi capital Baghdad for some of those killed in Wednesday's stampede during a Shia ceremony.

Friends and relatives of some victims are still searching for their loved ones, as bodies continue to be recovered from the River Tigris.

More than 960 people died in the stampede, apparently triggered by rumours of an imminent suicide attack.

Shia leaders accuse Sunni Arab militants of starting the rumours.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari - himself a Shia - apparently accepted this theory, and called for tough action.

"The coming period will witness a strategic development in confronting terror and terrorists. And we will hit hard those murderers, radical militants and Saddamists," he said.

Angry mood

In Baghdad's main Shia district, Sadr City, people cried in anguish and beat their chests in grief.

Woman searches a hospital morgue for a missing relative
Hospital morgues are overflowing with unidentified dead

Funeral tents were set up in the district, but many of the dead were taken to the holy city of Najaf for final burial.

Security was tight on the Baghdad-Najaf road, which was choked with coffins loaded onto minivans and coaches.

Mr Jaffari meanwhile visited the Kadhimiya hospital, where many victims were taken, accompanied by the defence and health ministers.

But the BBC's Jon Brain in Baghdad says the mood is turning from shock to anger, with many Shia people blaming the government for what they see as a failure of organisation over the procession.

Cabinet ministers fell out over the stampede but the prime minister has rejected calls for sackings.

Community leaders are calling for calm, fearful that Wednesday's tragedy could stoke further violence.

The stampede was the largest single loss of life in Iraq since the US-led invasion more than two years ago.

It occurred after mortars were fired on crowds near the Kadhimiya mosque - the burial place of a venerated Shia religious leader. At least seven died and more than 30 were wounded.

Identifying the dead

About one million pilgrims were said to have converged at the Kadhimiya mosque when the crush happened.

Deadly stampede

Many of the dead were women, children, or elderly, who drowned when railings along a bridge over the River Tigris gave way under pressure.

More than 800 people were injured in the incident.

Health officials said on Thursday that bodies were still being retrieved from the river.

Dozens of tents have been set up in predominantly Shia areas of Baghdad to house the dead.

Distraught Iraqis continue to search for their missing relatives among lines of corpses laid out in hospitals and makeshift morgues.

Three days of mourning have been declared.




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Families search for the bodies of stampede victims



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