More than 100 people were killed and 150 injured in a fire at a wedding party in Hamdaniya district in Iraq’s Nineveh province that left civil defence personnel searching the charred skeleton of a building for survivors into the early hours of Wednesday.
Nineveh deputy governor Hassan al-Allaq told Reuters that 113 people had been confirmed dead, with state media putting the death toll at at least 100, with 150 people injured. The health department in Nineveh province raised the death toll to 114.
The fire ripped through a large events hall in the northeastern region after fireworks were lit during the celebration, local civil defence said, according to state media.
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” said Imad Yohana (34), who escaped the inferno.
Video from a Reuters correspondent at the site showed firefighters clambering over the charred wreckage of the building, shining lights over smouldering ruins.
Preliminary information indicated the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to its rapid collapse, state media said.
Ambulances and medical crews were sent to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.
Witnesses at the site said the building caught fire at around 10.45pm local time and that hundreds of people were in attendance at the time.
There was no immediate official word on the cause of the blaze but initial reports by the Kurdish television news channel Rudaw suggested fireworks at the venue may have sparked the fire.
Footage aired by Rudaw, apparently shot by a guest, showed fireworks shooting up from the floor and setting a chandelier overhead ablaze.
Other footage appeared to show the bride and groom on the dance floor when the fire began, stunned by the sight of the burning debris. It was not clear if they were among those hurt.
Ahmed Dubardani, a health official in the province, told Rudaw that many of those injured suffered serious burns.
“The majority of them were completely burned and some others had 50 to 60% of their bodies burned,” he said. “This is not good at all. The majority of them were not in good condition.” – Agencies