The Iraqi authorities have issued arrest warrants against four owners of the event location after a serious fire at a wedding reception in the northwest of the country.
As the state news agency INA reported, Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul Amir Al-Shammari has also ordered the formation of an investigative committee. This is intended to clarify the exact circumstances of the accident.
The Interior Ministry’s statement said that initial investigations indicated that there was no criminal background. Instead, it is suspected that a lack of safety precautions was the reason for the accident.
More than 100 dead and 150 injured
At least 114 participants in a wedding celebration were killed in the fire and 200 were injured. Eyewitnesses said that fireworks started the fire, but there was no official confirmation of this.
Pictures of the disaster showed a collapsed and burned-out hall in the town of Al-Hamdanija. Survivors said on television afterwards that the bride and groom had survived. The civil defense explained that the hall used for weddings was equipped with highly flammable cladding. This violated security requirements and did not have a mandatory alarm system.
Hall partially collapsed
“The fire led to the partial collapse of the hall because highly flammable, cheap building materials were used, which collapse within minutes in the event of a fire,” said the civil protection authority.
Rescue workers searched for survivors under the rubble of the burned-out hall. Crowds of people gathered in front of the scene of the accident at night. Local television stations showed images of corpses covered with sheets in the street and ambulances.
Up to 1,000 people in the hall
Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr said early this morning that the situation was under control. Up to 1,000 people were in the hall when the fire occurred, MP Ichlas al-Dulaimi told Rudaw. Walls and ceilings collapsed. Families would search for their loved ones and hospitals would treat many injured people with burns. She spoke of a “big disaster”.
Al-Hamdaniya is located near Mosul in the northwest of the country and about five hours’ drive from the capital Baghdad.