More than 100 people have died and at least 150 are injured after a fire at a Christian wedding celebration in Iraq’s Nineveh province.
The fire ripped through a large events hall in the north-eastern region after fireworks were lit during the celebration, local civil defence said, according to state media.
Nineveh Deputy Governor Hasan al-Allaq told Reuters that 113 people had been confirmed dead, with state media putting the death toll at at least 100 with 150 injured.
It is not clear if the bride and groom are among the dead or injured.
Eyewitnesses at the site said the building caught fire at around 10:45pm local time (8:45pm UK time) and that hundreds of people were in attendance at the time of the incident.
Video from the site shows firefighters clambering over the charred wreckage of the building in search of survivors.
Preliminary information indicated that the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to
its rapid collapse, state media said.
Civil defence officials have reportedly said the wedding hall’s exterior was decorated with highly flammable cladding that is illegal in the country.
Ambulances and medical crews were dispatched to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and authorities in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.
The fire happened in the Hamdaniya area of the Nineveh province close to the city of Mosul and around 200 miles from the capital Baghdad.
Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr said: “All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident.”
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.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani said he had phoned Mr al-Jubouri and “the Ministers of Interior and Health are directed to mobilise all efforts to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate incident”.
The number of Christians in Iraq today is estimated at 150,000, compared to 1.5 million in 2003.
Iraq’s total population is more than 40 million.
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