Over 110 killed, 150 injured as accidental fire engulfs Iraq wedding party during bride and groom dance show

Agencies
September 27, 2023

iraq.jpg

Mosul (Iraq) Sept 27: A raging fire seemingly caused by fireworks set off to celebrate a Christian wedding consumed a hall packed with guests in northern Iraq, killing at least 110 people and injuring 150 others as authorities warned on Wednesday the death toll could still rise.

Authorities said that flammable building materials also contributed to the latest disaster to hit Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority. The fire happened in the Hamdaniya area of Iraq’s Nineveh province, authorities said.

That’s a predominantly Christian area just outside of the city of Mosul, some 335 kilometres (205 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
There was no official word on the cause of the blaze, but the Kurdish television news channel Rudaw aired footage showing fireworks shooting up from the floor of the event and setting a chandelier aflame.

In the blaze’s aftermath, only charred metal and debris could be seen as people walked through the scene of the fire, the only light coming from television cameras and the lights of onlookers’ mobile phones.

Survivors arrived at local hospitals in bandages, receiving oxygen, as their families milled through hallways and outside as workers organised more oxygen cylinders.

Some of those burned included children. Ambulance sirens wailed for hours after the fire as paramedics brought out the injured.

Other footage shown on other local television networks appeared to show the bride and groom on the dance floor when the fire began Tuesday night, stunned by the sight of the burning debris. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were among those hurt.

“There were about to do a slow dance and then they lit up this thing for the dance which caught fire,” one injured woman told Rudaw from a hospital gurney.

Another man injured in the fire at the hospital similarly told Rudaw that the blaze started as the couple prepared for their slow dance.

“They lit up fireworks,” he said. “It hit the ceiling, which caught fire.” 

He added: “The entire hall was on fire in seconds.”

Health officials in Nineveh province raised the death toll to 114, though federal officials did not immediately update their figure of at least 100 killed.

Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr put the number of injured at 150 in that earlier statement carried by the state-run Iraqi News Agency.

“All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident,” al-Badr said.

Ahmed Dubardani, a health official in the province, told Rudaw that many of those injured suffered serious burns.

“The majority of them were completely burned and some others had 50 to 60 per cent of their bodies burned,” Dubardani said. “This is not good at all. The majority of them were not in good condition.”  Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation into the fire and asked the country’s Interior and Health officials to provide relief, his office said in a statement online.

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.

Hamdaniya is on Iraq’s Nineveh Plains and under the control of its central government, though it is close to and claimed by Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish regional government.

Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdish region, ordered hospitals there to also help those hurt in the blaze.

Father Rudi Saffar Khoury, a priest at the wedding, said it was unclear who was to blame for the fire.

“It could be a mistake by the event organizers or venue hosts, or maybe a technical error,” Khoury told The Associated Press. “It was a disaster in every sense of the word.”       Civil defense officials quoted by the Iraqi News Agency described the wedding hall’s exterior as decorated with highly flammable cladding that is 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 defense 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.

While some types of cladding can be made with fire-resistant material, experts say those that have caught fire at the wedding hall and elsewhere weren’t designed to meet stricter safety standards and often were put onto buildings without any breaks to slow or halt a possible blaze.

That includes the 2017 Grenfell Fire in London that killed 72 people in the greatest loss of life in a fire on British soil since World War II, as well as multiple high-rise fires in the United Arab Emirates.

Although the Nineveh Plains, the historic homeland, was wrested back from the Islamic State group six years ago, some towns are still mostly rubble and lack basic services. Many Christians have left for Europe, Australia or the United States. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
Agencies
June 15,2024

arafa1.jpg

Mount Arafat, June 15: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.

It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.

“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.

Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.

arafa.jpg

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
June 11,2024

rai.jpg

Mangaluru: Former minister and KPCC vice-president B Ramanath Rai stated that the NEET-UG should be conducted again and a high-level probe guided by the Supreme Court should be initiated.

“Being a Congress leader from Dakshina Kannada, which is an educational hub with a large number of medical colleges, I have to raise concern towards students and parents.

While a few students were becoming toppers in the exam earlier, this time 67 students scored 720. The grace marks were awarded, though it was not in the NEET guidelines. The govt has been playing with the future of lakhs of students. There should be a transparent and unbiased probe. The Congress will launch a nationwide protest,” he told reporters on Monday.

Stating that the NEET-UG result, which was scheduled to be released on June 14, was released 10 days earlier on June 4, Rai said, “The govt may have announced the results of NEET-UG and the Lok Sabha polls on the same day with the calculations of diverting the people’s attention. While many have made suicide attempts, the issue also has reached the court. Congress demands a high-level probe guided by the Supreme Court.”

Stating that the CET was introduced in Karnataka during the tenure of then-chief minister M Veerappa Moily in 1984, Rai said that a large number of students from the state were able to get admission to medical seats. 

“The previous system of holding medical entrance at the state level should be reintroduced. There is a need for a united fight along with other states for the re-introduction of the CET at the state level. Meanwhile, a fresh NEET-UG exam should be conducted for this year,” he said.

Congress candidate Padmaraj R Poojary, who contested the recent Lok Sabha poll, said a mass protest will be held if the central govt does not respond. He added that none of the students’ unions, except the NSUI, has raised their voice against the NEET-UG controversy.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
June 14,2024

bodies.jpg

Kochi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) flight carrying the mortal remains of the Indians who died in the tragic fire incident in Kuwait two days ago, landed at the international airport here on Friday.

The IAF C30J aircraft is carrying the bodies of the Indians and of them 31 were received at the airport here.

The 31 bodies include 23 Keralites, 7 Tamilians and one person from Karnataka, officials said.

Officials had said that 49 people were killed in the fire in the Al-Mangaf building on June 12 and majority of them were Indians; the remaining were Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals.

The blaze in the seven-storey building that housed 196 migrant workers in Mangaf, south of Kuwait City, on Wednesday killed 49 people and injured around 50 others. 

A preliminary probe has indicated glaring lapses – there were around two dozen gas cylinders on the ground floor of the building; inflammable materials were used as partitions to separate the workers in the cramped rooms; the doors to the rooftop were locked, etc.

Ernakulam Range DIG Putta Vimaladitya earlier said that all the required arrangements have been made to receive the bodies at the airport. 

“We have coordinated with the family members of the victims. Once the bodies are received, they will be properly escorted to their respective places.” Vimaladitya said.

A dedicated vehicle will be provided for each body, the DIG said. Heavy police force and ambulances have been deployed at the airport in Kochi.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.