At least 114 people were killed and at least 200 were injured when a fire broke out in a wedding hall in the Nineveh Governorate, northern Iraq, on Tuesday night. According to the Nineveh Governorate Health Department, 100 fatalities were recorded as a preliminary toll following the fire, reported INA.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani instructed the interior and health ministers to make every effort to help those affected by the fire in Al-Hamdaniya district.
Civil Defence firefighters tackled the blaze. Initial investigations suggested that the cause of the fire was the use of fireworks during the wedding ceremony. The flames apparently spread very quickly.
“The walls in the hall were covered with Ecobond panels,” said a Civil Defence spokesperson, “which is a building material made of aluminium and plastic that is highly flammable.” It was noted that the use of these panels in buildings “violates the safety instructions” stipulated by law. “Parts of the hall collapsed as a result of the use of these highly flammable, low-cost building materials.”
Safety instructions are often not followed in Iraq, where the infrastructure is dilapidated as a result of decades of conflict. This means that fires are frequent occurrences, and are often deadly.