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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Newly married couple, over 100 others killed in wedding fire in Northern Iraq

The newly married couple both lost their lives in the blaze, according to Ahmed Dubardani, deputy head of the Nineveh health directorate.

Speaking to reporters earlier at a press conference, he added that at least fifty people were in critical condition, with at least half having suffered burns.

“The majority of the wounded were completely burned. And some others had 50 to 60 per cent of their bodies burned. This is not good at all,” he said.

He added that the majority of those injured were young men and women – no one has been discharged so far.

Bride and groom ‘slow-danced’ before hall burst into flames

The bride and groom were slow-dancing when “fireworks started to climb to the ceiling (and) the whole hall went up in flames”, according to one survivor.

“We couldn’t see anything,” 17-year-old Rania Waad told news agency AFP, choking back sobs.

“We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.”

Raniaa Waad’s account supports preliminary findings by Iraqi civil defence authorities on the cause of last night’s fire.

It is not yet clear if the bride and the groom are among the victims.

Preliminary information suggest fireworks to blame

Preliminary information suggests fireworks were to blame for the fire, said Iraqi civil defence authorities in a statement.

They added that the danger was compounded by “release of toxic gases linked to the combustion of the panels”, which contained plastic.

“The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials,” said news agency AFP, quoting the statement.

The wedding party fire underscores how safety standards are often disregarded in the country where decades of conflict have left its infrastructure in despair.

More than 60 people perished in a fire that ripped through the Covid unit of a hospital in the south in July 2021. Three months before that, 80 people died after exploding oxygen tanks set fire to a hospital in the capital of Baghdad.

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