Six children dead

Protests erupt in Basra’s Al-Hartha following fatal traffic incident

AL-HARTHA — On Tuesday evening, relatives of victims involved in a traffic incident in Basra’s Al-Hartha district organized a massive night-time protest. Starting at the scene of the incident in al-Mashan area, the procession moved toward the qaymaqam’s office in Al-Majidiya area, demanding the removal of Nadheer Al-Shawi, the district’s qaymaqam, and the construction of pedestrian bridges to prevent similar incidents in the future.

At least six students died and 14 were injured Tuesday when a truck plowed into them as they left Zaynab Primary School in Al-Hartha, a city located in the north-eastern part of Basra governorate. Footage went viral showing the disturbing scenes of children’s textbooks scattered alongside the remains of the victims.

Salma Al-Bobasiri, director of Harir School in Al-Hartha, expressed her grief and frustration to 964media, highlighting the negligence faced by Al-Hartha and the northern Basra region by both local and central governments.

“This is not the first incident; we lose one or two students to [traffic] accidents every year due to urban planning that places schools on one side of Baghdad Street [a main street  in the city where the tragic incident unfolded] and residential areas on the other, with no pedestrian bridges in place,” Al-Bobasiri said.

“This protest is just the beginning, and in the coming days, you will see what the locals of Al-Hartha  are capable of,” she added, indicating a potential intensification of protests.

In response to the tragedy, the Basra governorate declared a three-day mourning period for the victims. Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid has sent a representative to Basra to meet with the victims’ families, and Prime Minister Al-Sudani has been in contact with Basra Gov. Asaad Al-Eidani to follow up on the details of the heartrending accident.

The Iraqi Ministry of Education also announced a period of mourning and reiterated its previous requests for pedestrian bridges and safety barriers. Following the accident, the Ministry of Interior reported the arrest of the truck driver responsible for the tragic event.

“Police in Basra arrested the truck driver who ran over six students, leading to their death and injuring 14 others in the al-Hartha,” Interior Ministry spokesperson Miqdad Miri said.

According to initial confessions, the driver “lost control of the truck when the brakes failed,” he added in a statement.

This incident adds to a concerning trend, as highlighted by the Ministry of Education, which is now reviewing schools located near main roads.

Today, merely 24 hours after a tragic event in Basra, two students were injured in a vehicle accident while leaving  Al-Azhar High School in the Albu Hadary area of Kufa. They were transported to a hospital for medical treatment.

Authorities have detained the driver for investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident.

In 2022, road accidents in Iraq claimed lives of more than 4,900 people, an average of 13 per day, according to Health Ministry figures.

Conflict, neglect, and endemic corruption have left oil-rich Iraq’s infrastructure, including roads and bridges, in disrepair.

Officials often blame crashes on drivers ignoring speed limits, using mobile phones behind the wheel, and consuming drugs and alcohol.

Drivers in Basra's Al-Zubair district call for fix to dangerous roadway

Drivers in Basra's Al-Zubair district call for fix to dangerous roadway

Al-Bayaa bridges in poor condition due to heavy truck traffic

Al-Bayaa bridges in poor condition due to heavy truck traffic