UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday expressed sorrow for the deadly stampede in the holy Shiite city of Karbala in Iraq.
In a statement, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN chief learned with deep sorrow of the loss of life and injuries that occurred near the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala.
"The secretary-general expresses his deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and wishes a speedy recovery for the injured," he said. "The United Nations stands ready to support the government in dealing with this tragedy."
On Tuesday afternoon, 31 Shiite pilgrims were killed and some 100 others wounded in a stampede when thousands of Shiite pilgrims pushed into the entrance of the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, according to Iraqi Health Ministry.
The provincial government of Karbala announced a three-day mourning starting from Wednesday for the tragic incident.
The Shiite community commemorates Ashura, which marks the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed, who was killed and buried in 680 A.D. in Karbala.
During the past 10 days, up to 4 million Shiite pilgrims arrived in Karbala from other Iraqi provinces and outside Iraq to perform the major ritual of Ashura, according to figures announced by the al-Furat al-Awsat Operations Command.
Tuesday was the climax of the ritual of Ashura, which means "10" in Arabic, as the killing of Imam Hussein took place on the 10th day of Muharam, the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar.