An inferno at a wedding ceremony in Al-Hamdaniyah town of Iraq’s northern Nineveh province has resulted in the loss of at least 100 lives.
The devastating incident on Tuesday evening saw over 150 people injured.
It is believed that the fire started after fireworks were lit and inflammable panels in the venue caused the flames to spark, leading to parts of the ceiling catching fire and collapsing.
“The fire led to the collapse of parts of the hall as a result of the use of highly flammable, low-cost building materials that collapsed within minutes when fire breaks out,” Iraq’s civil defence directorate said as quoted by state news agency INA.
The fate of the bride and groom remains unclear, as initial reports suggested they had perished but later sources indicated they were alive and receiving treatment for burns.
Firefighters were seen battling the fire in photos shared by local journalists on social media.
Eyewitnesses said hundreds of people were there celebrating when the building caught fire at around 10:45 local time (19:45 GMT) on Tuesday.
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno, told an international news agency.
Another wedding guest, Rania Waad, who sustained a burn to her hand, said that as the bride and groom were slow dancing “fireworks started to climb to the ceiling, the whole hall went up in flames. We couldn’t see anything. We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.”
The deputy governor of Nineveh, Hassan al-Allaq, told reporters that 113 people had been confirmed dead, while state news agency INA put the death toll at at least 100, with 150 people injured.
The injured have been transferred to hospitals across the Nineveh region, the region’s governor told INA, suggesting that the number of deaths and injuries was not fixed and may rise.
Report says at the main hospital in Hamdaniyah, which is east of the region’s capital Mosul, dozens of people arrived to donate blood to help the injured.
Iraq’s prime minister posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he had directed officials to “mobilise all efforts to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate incident”.