Wedding fire: more than 113 people killed, 150 injured
Late on September 26, a fire broke out in a crowded wedding hall in northern Iraq. The fire killed more than 100 people. There are fears that the bride and groom were among the victims, reports to Reuters.
On the morning of September 27, firefighters searched the charred skeleton of a building in Karakusha. Grieving relatives, wailing and crying in despair, gathered outside a morgue in the neighboring city of Mosul, which is located 335 km northwest of the capital Baghdad.
“It wasn't a wedding. It was hell,” Maryam Khedr said through tears as she waited for officials to return the bodies of her 27-year-old daughter Rana Yaqub and three young grandchildren, the youngest of whom was just eight months old.
Survivors said hundreds of people attended the wedding celebration, which followed the church service. The fire started about an hour into the celebration when decorations on the ceiling caught fire while the bride and groom were dancing.
The entire hall caught fire in a matter of seconds.
Nineveh's deputy health director, Ahmed Dubardani, said newlyweds were among those killed. However, there are conflicting reports: some guests claimed that the couple survived by escaping through the kitchen, reports Independent.
“They were going to slow dance and then they lit this dance thing and it caught fire,” the Associated Press quoted one of the wounded women as saying.
Nineveh provincial deputy governor Hassan al-Allaq said 113 people had been confirmed dead, with state media reporting the death toll was at least 100 and 150 injured.
Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari said the fire engulfed a large event hall in Hamdaniya after fireworks ignited, causing the ceiling to catch fire. The fireworks suddenly caught on a shiny decoration on the ceiling, which caught fire, and panic began.
The bride and groom were dancing in their wedding attire when burning material began falling onto the floor.
Most residents of Qarakush are primarily Christian, but members of the Iraqi Yazidi minority also live there. In 2014, when the Islamic State captured the city, many left, but after liberation in 2017, they returned.
The Interior Ministry said it had issued four arrest warrants against the owners of the wedding hall, and President Abdul Latif Rashid called for an investigation.
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“We saw the fire pulsating, bursting out of the hall. We managed to get out,” said Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old man who escaped the inferno.
According to preliminary information, the building was built from flammable building materials, which contributed to its rapid collapse.
According to eyewitnesses, the building caught fire around 22:45 p.m. local time.
“I lost my daughter, her husband and their three-year-old child. They all burned out. My heart is burning,” said a woman near the morgue, where bodies lay in bags while cars came to pick up those identified.
A man named Yusef stood nearby with burns on his hands and face. He said he didn't see anything when the fire started and the power went out. He grabbed his three-year-old grandson and managed to get out.
But his 50-year-old wife, Bashra Mansour, couldn't do it. She died.
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