At least 31 pilgrims died on Tuesday in a stampede at a major shrine in Iraq's Karbala where they were marking the holy day of Ashura, the Iraqi health ministry said. The death toll is expected to raise, as there are over a 100 people injured, with almost a dozen of them in a critical condition. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry has shared however, that none of the casualties yet known involve Pakistani victims. 

It is the deadliest stampede in recent history during Ashura, when Shia pilgrims from around the world swarm Karbala to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein — Prophet Muhammed's (PBUH) grandson. Packed processions of black-clad worshipers made their way to his gold-domed shrine in Karbala, carrying black flags with “Hussein” written in red and wailing loudly. Around 15 million people observe Ashura in Karbala each year, making it one of the world's largest gatherings of people - religious or otherwise. 

Under ex-dictator Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime, the vast majority of Ashura commemorations were banned. Now, the day is a national holiday, with streets across the country shuttered to allow for elaborate re-enactments of the Battle of Karbala. Even during the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Karbala was still able to host such large a large population of pilgrims. Only last year, Shia Iraqis from regions under ISIS control were able to brave the journey through ISIS territory to observe Ashura with the rest of their community.

In 2005, at least 965 pilgrims heading to the Imam Kadhim shrine in Baghdad during a different holiday died after rumours of a suicide bomber in the crowd sparked a mass stampede.