In a tragic incident, at least 100 people died whereas 150 others sustained injuries as a massive fire broke at a wedding hall in northern, authorities said Wednesday.
According to the officials, the blaze erupted in Iraq's Nineveh province in its Hamdaniya area. which is a predominantly Christian area just outside of the northern city of Mosul, some 335 kilometres northwest of the capital, Baghdad.
Television footage showed charred debris inside of the wedding hall as an man shouted at firefighters.
What did the authorities say?
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.
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.
What led to the fire?
As per media reports, the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, but according to the initial reports by the Kurdish television news channel Rudaw, fireworks at the venue may have sparked the fire.
Civil defence 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.
“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 collapse within minutes when the fire breaks out,” civil defence 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 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.