Tragedy in Iraq. More than 100 people died and 150 were injured in a fire that broke out during a wedding celebration. The authorities are investigating the causes of the incident, and there are already arrests. The fire broke out around 22:30 local time in the Karakosh festival hall. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Sudani announced three days of national mourning in the country. Mourning in the province of Nineveh, where the tragedy occurred, will last a week.
“It was a wedding. Every day people get married. There were about 1,000 or 1,100 guests. There was a slow dance, there were fireworks when one of them set fire to the ceiling. The hall was made of cork and cloth, everything caught fire, the ceiling fell on the people and nobody could have come out,” said an eyewitness.
Among the victims are the newlyweds themselves. The fire engulfed entire families, and dozens of relatives and local residents donated blood for the victims.
“I was in the hall. I can’t find my mother, my daughter, my son, my wife, my father… They are gone. Only these clothes remained,” shared a guest of the wedding party.
The main hospital, in the small, predominantly Christian town, cannot accommodate all the injured and some of them are directed to nearby Mosul.
“Since last night, our hospital has been receiving injured people from the fire – after midnight, 20 people with severe burns were admitted,” said the director of the Specialized Burn Center in Mosul, Ibrahim Khalil.
“We can’t find my cousin’s wife and their children, we searched everywhere in Mosul, but nothing. We were told they might be in Erbil, we called, but they can’t be found there either,” said a relative of the newlyweds.
Nine people working at the venue have been detained and arrest warrants have been issued for four owners. A commission has been formed to investigate the case, which, according to the interior ministry’s preliminary report, is not criminal.
Safety standards in Iraq are often violated and such incidents are not uncommon. In July 2021, a fire in a covid ward killed more than 60 people. In April of that year, an oxygen cylinder explosion caused a fire in a hospital in Baghdad, killing 80 people.