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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

More than 100 dead in Iraq wedding fire

A huge fire at a wedding party ripped through a large hall in a predominantly Christian town in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh, killing 114 people and injuring more than 200, Governor of Nineveh province Najm al-Jubouri told reporters on Wednesday.

The fire broke out on Tuesday night in the al-Haytham Wedding Hall in the town of al-Hamdaniya, 35 km southeast of the provincial capital Mosul.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani announced a three-day mourning for the victims of the tragic incident and ordered to form an investigation committee to determine its causes, according to a statement on Wednesday morning by Sudani’s media office.

Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari, who rushed to the scene after midnight, told the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) that the fire was caused by fireworks inside the hall, which caused the ceiling to burn and collapse quickly, adding that the wedding hall lacks safety measures.

Video clips spreading on social media showed that during the wedding, a ring of pyrotechnics machines on the floor started to shoot sparks up into the air, igniting the decorated ceiling above and the flames quickly spreading all over.

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The building was covered with highly flammable materials, which accelerated the fire that led to the collapse of part of the building, the INA said.

Saad Maan, head of the interior ministry’s media office, said in a press release that “there are no indications of criminal intent in the al-Hamdaniya fire,” adding that nine people had been arrested in connection with the deadly incident.

Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid stressed in a statement the need to open an investigation, find out the circumstances of the accident, and take all safety measures to prevent its recurrence.

Observers believe that Iraq’s building safety standards are often ignored, and with Iraq’s infrastructure deteriorating over the decades of conflict, fatal fire incidents are often seen in the country.

In 2021, Iraq saw two huge fires, one broke out on April 25 in a hospital treating coronavirus patients in Baghdad, killing 82 people and injuring about 110 others; the other on July 13 in a hospital in the southern province of Dhi Qar, killing 92 people and wounding dozens.

Xinhua

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