BAGHDAD, Iraq: The day of Ashura, which falls this year on 30
January, draws millions of mourners from other Iraqi provinces and
beyond the country to the holy city of Karbala. Health and security
authorities in the holy city have been put on high alert.
"We are ready for any emergencies. More medicine and medical
equipment have been brought from Baghdad and other provinces. Doctors
and other health employees will be on duty round the clock," said Dr
Sadiq Abdullah of Al-Hussein Hospital, the city's main hospital.
"We've reserved 50 percent of the hospital's 410 beds for emergency
cases during this very important ceremony. Two big tents have been
erected with about 30 beds just next to the emergency section,"
Each year, millions of mourners march, chant and tens of thousands
shed their blood from heads, chest and backs in ritualistic
processions through Karbala.
"This year, we have asked for 10 more ambulances from the nearby
provinces of Babil and Najaf, where doctors will also be ready to come
here in case we need them. We have also managed to stock more
disinfectants, bandages and intravenous fluids. Mobile medical teams
will be roaming the streets," Abdullah said.
Furthermore, Karbala police officers have said that all roads
leading to the city will be sealed off to traffic and more than 8,000
security personnel will be deployed to accompany the Ashura
Spokesman for Karbala police Abdul-Rahman Mashawi said: "There will
be check points everywhere to ensure the safety of the pilgrims as
motor vehicles will be banned."