Debris of a hall in Iraq where a wedding celebration was taking place at the time of the accident
Photo: KHALID AL-MOUSILY / REUTERS
At least 114 people have been killed and 200 others injured in a fire at a wedding celebration in Iraq. This was said by the governor of the northern province of Nineveh, Najim al-Jaburi, on Wednesday night. The deputy head of the local health authority spoke of 500 injured, according to the TV station Rudaw. Pictures of the disaster showed a collapsed and burned-out hall in the town of Al-Hamdanija.
On videos on social media, which are supposed to show moments before the fire, burning parts of the room cladding apparently fall from the ceiling. Wedding guests jump up from tables and try to get to safety. The wedding couple on the dance floor seems to be in shock. On other videos, the wedding party can be seen dancing and chatting at tables shortly before.
The hall used for weddings was equipped with highly flammable cladding, said the civil defense. This had violated security requirements. There was also no mandatory alarm system. "The fire led to the partial collapse of the hall because highly flammable, cheap building materials were used, which collapse within minutes in the event of a fire," the civil defense authority said.
Search for survivors
Rescue workers searched for survivors under the rubble of the burnt-out hall. Many people gathered at night in front of the scene of the accident. Local TV stations showed images of bodies covered with cloths on the street and ambulances. Some eyewitnesses said that fireworks triggered the fire, but there was no official confirmation of this.
Al-Hamdanija is located near Mosul in the northwest and about a five-hour drive from the capital Baghdad. It is still unclear why allegedly highly flammable material was used in the construction of the hall. However, rampant corruption and mismanagement in Iraq also affect the construction sector.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani instructed the interior and health ministries to provide all possible assistance to those affected. Al-Sudani spoke on the phone with Governor Al-Jaburi during the night to inquire about the effects of the fire, the state agency INA reported.