Baghdad: A major fire erupted during a marriage ceremony at an event hall in the northern Iraqi town of Al-Hamdaniyah in Nineveh Governorate, has left over 114 dead and more than 200 others injured, as reported by state media and health officials.
Rescue efforts continued into the early hours of Wednesday.
Though the state media stated at least 100 deaths along with 150 injuries, Nineveh Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq confirmed 114 casualties.
The blaze ravaged a spacious events hall in the northeastern region after fireworks were ignited during the celebratory event, as per statements from local civil defence officials, reported through state media.
Eyewitnesses recounted the horrifying scene, with one survivor, Imad Yohana, describing the fire pulsating from the hall. Those who managed to escape were fortunate, while others got trapped inside.
Videos recorded by a Reuters correspondent on-site depicted fire-fighters navigating the charred remains of the building under the cover of darkness, using powerful lights to search for survivors.
Breaking News: Major fire at wedding party in northern Iraqi town Al-Hamdaniyah in Nineveh Governorate leaves over 114 dead pic.twitter.com/NvCeakMNgY— ummid.com (@ummid) September 27, 2023
Breaking News: Major fire at wedding party in northern Iraqi town Al-Hamdaniyah in Nineveh Governorate leaves over 114 dead pic.twitter.com/NvCeakMNgY
Preliminary findings suggest that the building was constructed using highly flammable materials, a significant contributing factor to its rapid collapse, as reported by state media.
In response to the tragedy, ambulances and medical teams were swiftly dispatched to the scene, with both federal Iraqi authorities and Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region providing assistance, as detailed in official statements.
The incident unfolded around 10:45 p.m. local time (1945 GMT), with hundreds of people in attendance at the time, as stated by eyewitnesses at the scene.
At the primary hospital in Hamdaniyah, which is predominantly a Christian town situated east of Mosul, an AFP photographer observed multiple ambulances arriving with sirens blaring, while a crowd gathered to donate blood in the courtyard.
In addition, individuals were seen at the doors of a refrigerated truck containing several black body bags.
Civil defence authorities reported the presence of prefabricated panels within the event hall that were "highly flammable and contravened safety standards."
The statement also highlighted that the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials led to parts of the ceiling collapsing due to the fire.
The tragic incident underlines the persistent safety challenges in Iraq's construction and transport sectors, where standards are often overlooked. The country's infrastructure remains in a state of disorder after years of conflict, making it a regular scene of fatal fires and accidents.
For all the latest News, Opinions and Views, download ummid.com App.
Select Language To Read in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi or Arabic.