A devastating fire occurred at a wedding in northern Iraq, leading to a significant loss of life. The incident took place on Tuesday evening in the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh. It was reported that fireworks ignited the blaze inside the crowded reception hall, which quickly spread due to highly flammable building materials.
Official sources confirmed that at least 100 people lost their lives in this tragic incident. Over 150 individuals suffered injuries, primarily burns and oxygen deprivation, with some experiencing injuries caused by crowd congestion during evacuation.
Ambulances rushed to the main hospital in Qaraqosh, and people gathered to donate blood for the injured. Additionally, a refrigerated truck containing black body bags was present at the scene.
According to Iraq’s official INA news agency, health authorities in Nineveh province recorded 100 fatalities and more than 150 injuries from the fire. The health ministry’s spokesman, Saif al-Badr, verified these numbers.
The Iraqi Red Crescent reported over 450 casualties but could not provide a specific breakdown of the fatalities.
The fire’s severity was exacerbated by the presence of highly flammable prefabricated panels in the reception hall, which did not meet safety standards. Toxic gases were released during the combustion of these plastic-containing panels, further endangering those inside. Additionally, the use of low-cost construction materials caused parts of the ceiling to collapse.
Witnesses described the horrifying moment when the fire erupted, with fireworks setting the hall ablaze while the bride and groom were slow dancing. Visibility became nearly impossible, and guests struggled to escape, resulting in a chaotic and tragic situation.
Emergency response teams worked diligently to examine the charred remains of the event hall, aided by flashlights.
Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani called upon the health and interior ministers to coordinate rescue efforts and assist the victims of this devastating fire.
Medical aid from various provinces, including Baghdad, was dispatched to the area. Teams from Nineveh were mobilized to provide care to the injured.
The governor of Nineveh, Nejm al-Juburi, declared a week of mourning in the province to honor the victims.
Unfortunately, safety standards in Iraq’s construction sector are frequently disregarded, leading to incidents like this one. The country, scarred by decades of conflict and with crumbling infrastructure, has witnessed numerous fatal fires and accidents.