(StraightNews.org) – A fire at a wedding in Iraq killed more than 100 people, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan. The tragedy occurred in the predominantly Christian town of Hamdaniya, near the city of Mosul. Emergency services named fireworks as the source of the blaze. In the latest reports, 114 people are confirmed dead and more than 100 injured.
The fire started just before the newlyweds began their first dance together as husband and wife. It is as yet unclear whether the couple survived.
A statement from emergency services said, “The speed of the fire, due to highly flammable building materials and highly flammable decorations and curtains covering the ceiling and the walls, took everyone by surprise.” Around 700 people were in Al Haitham Hall at the time, and hundreds were trapped inside as the fire raged near the main entrance.
One person inside at the time told the press that part of the building’s ceiling collapsed soon after the fire broke out, raising concerns about the quality of the hall’s construction. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani has ordered an investigation amid speculation that the venue’s exterior contained “highly flammable, low-cost” cladding that “collapsed within minutes.” Government officials said security forces had arrested more than a dozen people linked to the hall.
The first funerals took place at the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception on September 26, followed by several more in various churches the following day. Survivor Faten Youssef said, “Sadness has prevailed in the town. It’s as if there was a curfew imposed. The town has transformed from happiness to grief and morning.” She added that she will never attend a wedding again, and her young son told her if he ever gets married, he will only have a church service.
Father Rudi Saffar Khoury conducted the wedding ceremony and said the aftermath was “a disaster in every sense of the word.”
Investigations into the tragedy are ongoing.
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