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At least 113 dead and more than 150 injured in a fire that swept through a wedding party in Iraq |  News

At least 113 dead and more than 150 injured in a fire that swept through a wedding party in Iraq | News

story development,

Initial reports indicate that fireworks used during the wedding may have been responsible for the fire.

At least 113 people were killed and more than 150 others were injured in a fire that broke out at a wedding party in Nineveh Governorate in northern Iraq, local officials and emergency services said.

Deputy Governor of Nineveh, Hassan Al-Alaq, told Reuters news agency that 113 people have been confirmed killed so far. The fire reportedly broke out at around 10:45pm local time (19:45 GMT) on Tuesday night.

Najm al-Jubouri, the governor of Nineveh, warned early Wednesday that there were no final casualty figures after the fire, suggesting the death toll could rise.

Iraqi Ministry of Health spokesman Saif Al-Badr said, “All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident.”

The official Iraqi News Agency reported earlier that more than 150 people were also injured in the fire that swept through an event hall in the Al-Hamdaniya area of ​​the governorate, where the wedding was being held. Al-Hamdaniya is located outside the northern city of Mosul, about 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad.

The Iraqi Civil Defense said that initial reports indicate that fireworks used during the celebration may have been the cause of the fire. The civil defense authorities said in a statement early on Wednesday morning that preliminary information indicates the use of fireworks during a wedding ceremony, which led to a fire in the hall.

Security forces watch alongside ambulances at a hospital where people were taken for treatment after a fire engulfed a wedding party in Iraq’s Nineveh province on September 27, 2023. [Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdul Wahed, reporting from Baghdad, said fireworks are a common feature of wedding celebrations in Iraq, and about 1,000 people were reportedly present at the celebration when the fire broke out.

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Abdul Wahed said it was suspected that flammable materials used in the construction of the event hall contributed to the huge fire, adding that the building did not appear to have “proper safety measures” including emergency exits.

The Iraqi Civil Defense also reported the presence of prefabricated panels in the event hall that were “highly flammable and inconsistent with safety standards.”

The civil defense authorities said in their statement that “the fire caused some parts of the roof to collapse due to the use of highly flammable and low-cost building materials.”

Pictures of the fire’s aftermath showed emergency workers climbing over the rubble and the collapsed roof with twisted and charred metal in the destroyed event hall.

An emergency worker walks over rubble at the site of a fire at a wedding in the Hamdaniyah district of Nineveh Governorate, Iraq, on September 27, 2023. [Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters]

Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani’s office said in an online statement that it had ordered an investigation into the fire and asked the country’s interior and health officials to provide relief.

Videos posted on social media, allegedly captured in the moments before the fire broke out, showed burning pieces of panels falling from the ceiling of the event hall. Wedding guests were also seen jumping off tables and trying to escape to safety.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health said that “medical aid trucks” were sent to Nineveh from Baghdad and other provinces.

Nineveh Governorate, Iraq [Al Jazeera]