No fewer than 114 were killed and 100 more injured in Iraq after fire razed a wedding hall in the Hamdaniya area of Nineveh Province, a Christian-dominated area close to Mosul.
According to VOA, the deadly event happened on Wednesday, and television footage showed fire engulfing the wedding hall, which the civil defence officials said was filled with illegal flammable cladding.
In the aftermath of the fire, only charred metal and debris could be seen as people walked through the scene – the dark hall was only lightened up by television cameras and eyewitnesses’ phones.
“All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident,” Saif al-Badr, a health ministry spokesman, said on the state-owned Iraqi News Agency. The health department in Nineveh Province pegged death toll figures at 114.
The wounded are being treated with various degrees of injuries at regional hospitals – some survivors arrived at local hospitals, receiving oxygen and bandages, with disrupted family members occupying the hospitals.
Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities warned that the death toll could rise as final figures of casualties have yet to be determined.
No official details have been provided about the cause of the fire outbreak at press time, but initial reports by the Kurdish television news channel Rudaw suggested that fireworks at the venue might have started it.
In a statement released online, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Iraq’s prime minister, ordered an investigation into the incident and tasked the officials with the interior and health ministries to provide relief.