At least 100 people died in Iraq and 150 others were injured on the night of Tuesday 26 to Wednesday 27 September in a fire during a wedding in a village hall in Hamdaniyah, a small town in the north of the country, according to health authorities.

At the main hospital in Hamdaniyah, a small predominantly Christian town east of the metropolis of Mosul, an AFP photographer saw several ambulances arrive, sirens blaring. Dozens of people were massed in the courtyard of the establishment, relatives of victims or residents who came to donate blood, according to the same source. Residents were also massed in front of the open doors of a refrigerated truck carrying several black body bags, according to the photographer.

Health authorities in Nineveh, the province where Hamdaniyah is located, "have recorded 100 dead and more than 150 injured in the fire of a wedding hall in Hamdaniyah", announced the official Iraqi news agency INA evoking a "preliminary assessment". Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr confirmed the death toll to AFP.

"Highly flammable"

In a statement, the Civil Defense reported the presence of prefabricated panels "highly flammable and contrary to safety standards" in the party hall where the tragedy took place. "The fire caused parts of the ceiling to fall, due to the use of highly flammable and inexpensive building materials," the source said. "Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding which sparked a fire in the hall," the statement added.

In Iraq, safety standards are poorly respected, whether in the construction or transport sector. The country, whose infrastructure is failing after decades of conflict, is regularly the scene of fires or fatal domestic accidents.

With AFP

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