Wedding Fire kills at least 100 in Iraq’s biggest Christian town
Wedding Fire kills at least 100 in Iraq’s biggest Christian town: According to family members of a Christian bride and groom, they made it out alive after a devastating fire broke out during their wedding celebration in Iraq’s largest Christian town in northern Nineveh province on Tuesday, killing at least 100 people and injuring more than 150 others.
There were some 1,300 guests in attendance at the event when the fire broke out
The bride and groom by the name Haneen and Ivan Esho, are receiving treatment at a hospital in Erbil, Iraq.
The fire broke out at approximately 10:45 p.m. local time, Iraqi Joint Operations Command Spokesperson Major General Pilot Tahseen Al Khafaji told CNN.
Survivors told Reuters that the guests had gathered at the banquet hall following an earlier church service. They were only inside for about one hour when fireworks ignited a fire among the decorations in the ceiling as the newlyweds danced.
“Initial information indicates that fireworks were used during the wedding ceremony, which initially ignited a fire inside the hall. The fire spread very quickly, and the matter was exacerbated by the toxic gas emissions associated with the burning of the highly flammable Ecobond plastic panels, which caused casualties and injuries among families,”
It was also noted by the ministry that the banquet hall was covered with highly flammable Ecobond panels which is a violation of local building codes. He said the quick spread of the fire caused parts of the building to collapse on the wedding party even though first responders were also quick to respond to the fire alarm.
The father of the groom who also confirmed that the couple had survived, said he blamed the owner of the banquet hall for the tragedy. Officials say warrants have already been issued for the arrest of the hall’s owners.
“I hold the owner of the hall responsible for what happened at the party because there are no extinguishers or safety measures in the hall,” he said as family members of the dead mourned their loved ones outside a morgue in the nearby city of Mosul, a Christian town that survived occupation by the Islamic State terrorist group.
“This was not a wedding. This was hell,” Mariam Khedr told Reuters as she cried and hit herself while she waited for officials to return the bodies of her daughter, Rana Yakoub, 27, and three young grandchildren, who had attended the wedding.
Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the fire, said some people got stuck in the hall trying to escape.
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall,” he told Reuters. “Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck.”
“I lost my daughter, her husband and their 3-year-old,” another woman seen waiting outside the Mosul morgue told Reuters. “They were all burned. My heart is burning.”
According to CNN “The bride and groom are fine. I was just with them now, but their condition is devastating due to what happened to people here,” a guest said.
Video posted online shows hundreds of people lining up at local hospitals at 3 a.m. local time to give blood to help the survivors.
“There are hundreds of people injured, we are in need of blood,” Nader Salm, a 49-year-old translator from Qaraqosh, told CNN. “This tragedy hurt us more than ISIS. At least when ISIS came, we could escape, but now a wedding became a graveyard for us.”