In Iraq, fire at a wedding leaves more than a hundred dead and 150 injured

The tragedy occurred in the middle of the night while hundreds of people were celebrating a wedding in a village hall in northern Iraq

In Iraq, fire at a wedding leaves more than a hundred dead and 150 injured

The tragedy occurred in the middle of the night while hundreds of people were celebrating a wedding in a village hall in northern Iraq. After a fire broke out in the establishment, at least one hundred people died and 150 others were injured according to a “preliminary assessment” announced Wednesday, September 27, by the health authorities of the province of Nineveh, and confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Saif Al-Badr.

At the main hospital in Hamdaniyah, a small Christian town near Mosul also known as Qaraqosh, an AFP photographer saw several ambulances arriving, sirens blaring. Wednesday after midnight, dozens of people were gathered in the courtyard of the establishment, relatives of victims or residents coming to donate their blood, according to the same source. Residents were also gathered in front of the open doors of a refrigerated truck carrying several black body bags, according to the photographer.

In a press release, civil defense reported the presence of prefabricated panels “highly flammable and contravening safety standards” in the party room where the tragedy took place. “The fire caused parts of the ceiling to fall, due to the use of highly flammable and inexpensive construction materials,” according to the same source. “Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding which sparked a fire in the venue,” the statement added.

Aid trucks from Baghdad

In a succinct statement, Prime Minister Mohammed Chia Al-Soudani called on the health and interior ministers to “mobilize all rescue efforts” to help victims of the tragedy. For its part, the Ministry of Health announced "the sending of medical aid trucks" from Baghdad, located 400 km to the south, and other provinces of the country, ensuring that its teams from Nineveh were mobilized to "treat the injured”.

In Iraq, safety standards are poorly respected, whether in the construction or transport sector. The country, with its infrastructure in disrepair after decades of conflict, is regularly the scene of fires or fatal domestic accidents. In July 2021, a fire in the Covid unit of a hospital in southern Iraq cost the lives of more than 60 people. And a few months earlier in April, the explosion of oxygen bottles had started a fire in a hospital in the capital Baghdad dedicated to Covid, and left more than 80 dead.