Iraq Wedding Fire: ‘Who Can Help Me With This? The Government?’
Hundreds of people were celebrating when a fire tore through a Christian wedding party in Al-Hamdaniya in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province late on Tuesday evening.
The blaze ripped through Al Haitham Hall, estimated to hold up to 1,200 people, after sparklers were lit during the celebration and set fire to the ceiling, according to authorities.
“The fire led to the collapse of parts of the hall as a result of the use of highly flammable, low-cost building materials,” Iraq’s civil defence directorate said, quoted by state news agency INA.
People Still Searching For Loved Ones
On Thursday, scores of people took to the streets of Nineveh to remember the more than 100 victims killed in the devastating blaze. It was the second burial held since the incident.
Authorities said the guests sustained injuries caused either by flames, smoke or the crush as people tried to flee the event hall beneath a partially collapsed ceiling.
“They didn’t burn or turn into ashes – they couldn’t breathe,” said one mourner at the mass funeral. People still search for loved ones, while others rush to donate blood.
Iraqi Authorities Accused Of Neglecting Citizens
“We don’t want anything from the government. We don’t know how or where to begin to get our justice,” Marious Addision told The National through tears.
Salem Amer lost three members of his family in the tragic event. He is still searching for his two-year-old son. “I just want to know if he is dead or alive.”
The Iraqi raised concerns over authorities neglecting citizens, adding the reception hall was “not fully equipped for fires or any disasters.” “They don’t have any fire exits.”
People Asked To Unite As Iraq Suffers
While it wasn’t immediately clear why authorities had allowed the highly flammable cladding to be used on the hall, mismanagement and corruption remain endemic in Iraq.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered a probe into the fire, asking officials to mobilise all efforts to provide relief to those affected by the deadly incident.
The head of Mosul’s Catholic Church, Marvin Youna Hannu, has called for all Iraqis to unite, stressing everyone must put “aside their religious and ethnics background”.