By Amina Ismail and Timour Azhari NINEVEH, Iraq (Reuters) -More than 100 people were killed and 150 injured in a fire at a wedding party in Iraq’s Nineveh province that left civil defence searching the charred skeleton of a building for survivors into the early hours of Wednesday. Nineveh Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq told Reuters […]
More than 100 dead, 150 injured in Iraq wedding inferno
By Amina Ismail and Timour Azhari
NINEVEH, Iraq (Reuters) -More than 100 people were killed and 150 injured in a fire at a wedding party in Iraq’s Nineveh province that left civil defence searching the charred skeleton of a building for survivors into the early hours of Wednesday.
Nineveh Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq told Reuters that 113 people had been confirmed dead, with state media putting the death toll at least 100, with 150 people injured.
The fire ripped through a large events hall in the district of Hamdaniya after flares were lit during the celebration, causing a fire in the ceiling, Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari said according to state media.
Hamdaniya is mostly Christian and the area had already suffered during its occupation by Islamic State group from 2014-17.
A video of the event, posted on social media but not yet verified by Reuters, appeared to show the flares suddenly catching a glittering ceiling decoration that burst into flames, as sounds of excitement turned rapidly to panic.
Another video that Reuters has not yet verified showed a couple dancing in wedding clothes when burning material began dropping to the floor.
The Interior Ministry said it had issued four arrest warrants for the owners of the wedding hall, state media reported, and President Abdul Latif Rashid called for an investigation.
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck,” said Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno.
Video from a Reuters correspondent at the site showed firefighters clambering over the charred wreckage of the building, shining lights over smouldering ruins.
Preliminary information indicated that the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to its rapid collapse, state media said.
Ambulances and medical crews were dispatched to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.
Eyewitnesses at the site said the building caught fire at around 10:45 p.m. local time (1945 GMT) and that hundreds of people were in attendance at the time of the incident.
(Reporting by Amina Ismail in Mosul, Timour Azhari in Baghdad, Jamal Badrani in Nineveh and Enas Alasharay in Cairo; Writing by Timour Azhari and Angus McDowall; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Christopher Cushing, Bernadette Baum and Christina Fincher)