June 18, 2024

At least 113 people were killed and more than 150 were injured when a fire broke out during a wedding at an event hall in the northern Iraqi town of Hamdaniyah, officials said early on Wednesday.

So far, 113 people have been confirmed dead, according to Nineveh Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq who spoke to the Reuters news agency.

The hall was built using prefabricated panels, civil defence authorities said in a statement, adding that they were “highly flammable and contravened safety standards”.

The danger was compounded by the “release of toxic gases linked to the combustion of the panels”, which contained plastic.

“The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall,” the statement said, with “preliminary information” suggesting fireworks were to blame for the blaze.

In a brief statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani called on the ministers of health and the interior to “mobilise all rescue efforts” to help the victims of the fire.

Safety standards in Iraq’s construction and transport sectors are often disregarded, and the country, whose infrastructure is in disrepair after decades of conflict, is regularly the scene of fatal fires and accidents.

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