At least 120 dead in devastating wedding fire in Iraq, hundreds more injured

At least 120 dead in devastating wedding fire in Iraq, hundreds more injured
Live Story
27 September, 2023
A view of devastation after a fire at a wedding celebration in Mosul, Iraq on September 27, 2023. [Getty Images]

At least 120 people were killed when a fire broke out at a wedding attended by hundreds of guests in northern Iraq after fireworks were set off inside, officials said Wednesday.

The cause of the Tuesday evening blaze in the mainly Christian town of Qaraqosh was not immediately known but early reports suggested the fireworks had triggered a blaze inside the packed reception hall which had rapidly spread because of "highly flammable" construction materials.

At the main hospital in the town east of Iraq's main northern city of Mosul, an AFP photographer saw ambulances arriving with sirens blaring and dozens of people gathering in the courtyard to donate blood.

Others could be seen gathering in front of the open doors of a refrigerated truck loaded with black body bags.

The health ministry said "medical aid trucks" had been dispatched to the area from Baghdad and other provinces, adding that its teams in Nineveh had been mobilised to care for the injured.

Safety standards in Iraq's construction sector are often disregarded, and the country, whose infrastructure is in disrepair after decades of conflict, is often the scene of fatal fires and accidents.

In July 2021, a fire in the Covid unit of a hospital in southern Iraq killed more than 60 people.

And in April of the same year, exploding oxygen tanks triggered a fire at a hospital in Baghdad - also dedicated to Covid patients - that killed more than 80 people.

11:21 AM
The New Arab Staff

Death toll reaches 120 with hundreds more injured

The General Coordinator of the Iraqi Red Crescent, Ghassan Muhammad Al-Wathini, told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that the number of victims and injured has reached around 450 people so far, stressing that medical teams were on high alert.

An Iraqi security source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the number of casualties admitted to Al-Hamdaniya Hospital exceeded 120, including children, noting that entire families perished in the fire.

He stressed that the total number of dead and injured may reach 500 people, pointing out that some of the victims were guests at the wedding and came from the United States, Australia, and Britain.

Regarding the victims’ identities, the source said that there is difficulty in identifying some of the victims due to the severity of the fire, adding that there were difficulties in rescuing some of the injured due to suffocation, severe burns, and a lack of resources at hospitals in Nineveh in general.

A security source expected the number of deaths & injuries to reach 500 [Getty]
11:18 AM
The New Arab Staff

Iraqi Prime Minister declares 3 days of national mourning

Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani announced three days of national mourning over the fire that broke out in the northern Nineveh Governorate.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Media Office, reported by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA), said that Al-Sudani "directed the declaration of general mourning throughout Iraq for a period of three days, as a condolence for the victims who fell in the Hamdaniyah fire accident, in the Nineveh Plain region."

Nineveh Governor Najm al-Jubouri however has declared a week-long mourning.

11:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

Iraqi interior minister orders formation of an investigation committee into the fire

Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari directed the formation of an investigation committee to follow up on the developments of the Hamdaniyah fire in Nineveh.

"The Minister of Interior ordered the formation of an investigation committee headed by the Director of Nineveh Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism (whose name was not mentioned) to follow up on the developments of the Hamdaniyah district incident," said a statement by the Ministry of Interior, reported by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA).

"The initial report on the Al-Hamdaniya Hall accident indicates that it is not criminal, but rather a lack of safety and security procedures," the statement added.

In a related context, the Ministry of Interior issued arrest warrants for four owners of the wedding hall where the fire occurred.

Initial reports say the fire was not criminal, according to the minister [Getty]


The New Arab Staff