At least 113 killed, over 150 injured as fire engulfs wedding party in Iraq
At least 113 people have been killed and more than 150 injured in a fire that ripped through a wedding celebration in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, local officials and emergency services said, News.Az reports citing Al Jazeera.
Nineveh Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq told the Reuters news agency that 113 people have been confirmed dead so far. The fire was reported to have started at approximately 10:45pm local time (19:45 GMT) on Tuesday night.
Najim al-Jubouri, the provincial governor of Nineveh, cautioned early on Wednesday that there were no final casualty figures yet from the blaze, which suggests the death toll still may rise.
“All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident,” Iraq’s health ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr said.
Iraq’s official INA news agency reported earlier that more than 150 people were also injured in the blaze, which engulfed an event hall in the province’s Hamdaniyah district where the wedding celebration was taking place. Hamdaniyah is located outside of the northern city of Mosul, some 400km (about 250 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.
Iraq’s civil defence said initial reports indicated that fireworks used during the celebration may have been the cause of the fire. “Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding, which triggered a fire in the hall,” civil defence authorities said in a statement early on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Baghdad, said that fireworks are a common feature of wedding celebrations in Iraq and that some 1,000 people were reported to have been present at the celebration when the fire broke out.
Flammable material used in the construction of the event hall is suspected to have contributed to the huge blaze, Abdelwahed said, adding that the building did not appear to have “proper safety measures in place”, including emergency exits.
Iraq’s civil defence also reported the presence of prefabricated panels at the event hall that were “highly flammable and contravened safety standards”.
“The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials,” civil defence authorities said in their statement.