At least 100 people were killed and over 200 were injured in a fire at a wedding celebration in the district of Hamdaniya in Iraq’s Nineveh province, Iraqi state media said early on Wednesday.
The fire ripped through a large events hall in the north-eastern region of the country after fireworks were lit during the celebration, local civil defence said, according to state media.
Civil defense officials quoted by the Iraqi News Agency described the wedding hall’s exterior as being decorated with highly flammable cladding that were illegal in the country.
Najim al-Jubouri, the provincial governor of Nineveh, said some of the injured had been transferred to regional hospitals. He cautioned there were no final casualty figures yet from the blaze, which suggests the death toll still may rise.
Ambulances and medical crews were dispatched to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and authorities in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.
Television footage showed charred debris inside of the wedding hall as an man shouted at firefighters.
Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr gave the casualty figure via the state-run Iraqi News Agency.
‘All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident,’ al-Badr said.
It wasn’t immediately clear why authorities in Iraq allowed the cladding to be used on the hall, though corruption and mismanagement remains endemic two decades after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
While some types of cladding can be made with fire-resistant material, experts say those that have caught fire at the wedding hall and elsewhere weren’t designed to meet stricter safety standards and often were put onto buildings without any breaks to slow or halt a possible blaze.
That includes the 2017 Grenfell Fire in London that killed 72 people in the greatest loss of life in a fire on British soil since World War II, as well as multiple high-rise fires in the United Arab Emirates.
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