Iraq deaths put at 655,000
Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:49am ET
By Patricia Reaney
LONDON (Reuters) - American and Iraqi public health experts have calculated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent violence, far above previous estimates.
Researchers used household interviews rather than body counts to estimate how many more Iraqis had died because of the war than used to die annually in peacetime.
"We estimate that as a consequence of the coalition invasion of March 18, 2003, about 655,000 Iraqis have died above the number that would be expected in a non-conflict situation," said Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States.
That means 2.5 percent of the Iraqi population have died because of the invasion and ensuing strife, he said.
The team's study, published online by the medical journal The Lancet, estimated pre-war deaths in Iraq at 143,000 a year, and said Iraq's death rate is now 2-1/2 times that of the pre-war period.
"Although such death rates might be common in times of war, the combination of a long duration and tens of millions of people affected has made this the deadliest international conflict of the 21st century," Burnham said.
The survey was a follow-up to an earlier study which showed that nearly 100,000 more people than normal died in Iraq between March 2003 and September 2004.
The number of extra Iraqis who have died since March 2003 includes deaths from all causes, including those due to a rise in certain diseases and illnesses, the study said.