A fire ripped through a wedding venue in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 93 people and injuring 100, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan.
The fire hit a wedding venue in the predominantly Christian town of Hamdaniya, outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, about 205 miles northwest of the capital, Baghdad.
According to emergency services and witnesses present at the scene, fireworks inside the place caused the deadly fire.
“The speed of the fire, due to the highly flammable building materials and the highly flammable decorations and curtains that covered the ceiling and walls, took everyone by surprise,” the emergency rescue service in the province told reporters. Nineveh.
A video broadcast live on social media showed how the fire suddenly spread panic among dance guests in the ballroom, sending people running for safety, including the bride and groom.
The approximately 700 people inside the building were trapped when flames broke out near the main entrance.
“Shortly after the fire started, a blackout occurred… and smoke and screaming caused chaos. People were suffocating, falling and running into each other,” a witness told reporters. “Shortly after, part of the roof collapsed, causing more deaths and injuries.”
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation into the fire and asked the country’s interior and health ministries to provide assistance, his office said in a statement posted online.
A source in the Nineveh provincial government told CBS News that an investigation would be conducted to determine not only how the fire started, but also “how and if this location was licensed, considering the poor safety conditions.”
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the media about the incident, said the owner of the venue had “gone into hiding” and the hope was that the individual would be found to face an “investigation into the legality of operating such an unsafe place.
Iraq has faced similar tragedies in the recent past, blamed on poor construction materials and insufficient safety standards, including two major fires in hospital wards for COVID-19 patients in Baghdad and Nasiriyah that killed dozens of people.