Iraq Fire: Intense Blaze Claims At Least 100 Lives At Christian Wedding
Hundreds of people were celebrating in Al-Hamdaniya in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province when a fire broke out at a Christian wedding late on Tuesday evening, claiming at least 100 lives.
150 others sustained injuries of varying severities in the incident. While it’s not yet known what triggered the deadly fire, early reports blamed fireworks for the disaster.
“The fire led to the collapse of parts of the hall as a result of the use of highly flammable, low-cost building materials that collapse within minutes when fire breaks out,” Iraq’s civil defence directorate said, quoted by Iraq’s state news agency INA.
Firefighters Launching A Desperate Rescue Mission
It wasn’t immediately clear if the groom and the bride were among the victims. While initial reports said they were among the dead, Nina later reported they were being treated for burns.
A photo posted by the news agency showed scores of firefighters battling the intense blaze. Pictures from local journalists show the charred-out remains of inside the event hall.
According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of people were celebrating when a fire tore through the venue at around 10:45 local time. In the early hours of Wednesday, firefighters could be seen climbing over the rubble to search for survivors, in video filmed by a correspondent for Reuters.
Death Toll In Iraq Fire May Rise
“Fireworks started to climb to the ceiling” as the bride and groom were slow dancing, said Rania Waad, a wedding guest who escaped the inferno but sustained a burn to her hand.
While Hassan al-Allaq, the deputy governor of Nineveh, put the death toll in the incident at 113, state news agency INA confirmed at least 100 deaths, with 150 people sustaining injuries.
The injured have been rushed to hospitals across Nineveh, the region’s governor told INA, suggesting the death toll wasn’t fixed and could rise. Meanwhile, at the main hospital in Hamdaniya, dozens of people arrived to donate blood to help the injured.
Corruption And Mismanagement Remain Endemic In Iraq
Father Rudi Saffar Khoury, a priest at the wedding, said it was not yet known who was to blame for the incident. “It was a disaster in every sense of the word.”
While it wasn’t immediately clear why authorities in Iraq allowed the highly flammable cladding to be used on the hall, corruption and mismanagement remain endemic in the country.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered an investigation into the fire. Taking to X, previously known as Twitter, the top leader said he had asked officials to “mobilise all efforts to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate incident.”