DEVELOPING HISTORYHISTORY IN DEVELOPMENT,
Initial reports indicate that fireworks used during the wedding ceremony may have been responsible for the fire.
At least 113 people were killed and more than 150 injured in a fire that devastated a wedding celebration in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, local officials and emergency services said.
Nineveh’s deputy governor, Hassan al-Allaq, told the Reuters news agency that 113 people have been confirmed dead so far. The fire was reported to have started at approximately 10:45 p.m. local time (7:45 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday night.
Najim al-Jubouri, the provincial governor of Nineveh, warned early Wednesday that there were no final casualty figures from the fire yet, suggesting the death toll could still rise.
“Every effort is being made to provide aid to those affected by the unfortunate accident,” Iraqi Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr said.
Iraq’s official INA news agency earlier reported that more than 150 people were also injured in the fire, which engulfed an event hall in the province’s Hamdaniyah district where the wedding celebration was taking place. Hamdaniyah is located on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul, about 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad.
Iraqi civil defense said initial reports indicated that fireworks used during the celebration may have been the cause of the fire. “Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding, causing a fire in the hall,” civil defense authorities said in a statement early Wednesday.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Baghdad, said fireworks are a common feature of wedding celebrations in Iraq and that about 1,000 people were reported to be present at the celebration when the fire broke out.
Flammable material used in the construction of the event hall is suspected of contributing to the large fire, Abdelwahed said, adding that the building did not appear to have “adequate 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 contravened safety regulations.”
“The fire caused some parts of the roof to collapse due to the use of highly flammable and low-cost construction materials,” civil defense authorities said in their statement.
Images after the fire showed emergency workers climbing through rubble and a collapsed ceiling with twisted and charred metal in the destroyed event hall.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation into the fire and asked the country’s interior and health officials to provide help, his office said in an online statement.
Video clips posted on social media and allegedly taken in the moments before the fire showed pieces of burning panels falling from the ceiling of the event room. The wedding guests are also seen jumping off the tables and trying to flee to safety.
The Iraqi Health Ministry said “medical aid trucks” had been sent to Nineveh from Baghdad and other provinces.