Terrifying moment fire breaks out at wedding leaving at least 100 dead
This is the horrifying moment a deadly fire broke out during a bride and groom’s first dance at a wedding ceremony in Iraq, before the raging inferno engulfed the hall and killed at least 100 people and injured 150 more. Video purportedly shows the newlyweds Haneen and Revan slow-dancing before the blaze, believed to have been started by fireworks, tore through the large hall in the northern town of Qaraqosh near Mosul.
Hanneen (Pictured left), wearing a large white wedding dress, turns around in horror to see flames rapidly climbing the walls before burning material falls from the roof. Chaos ensues, with the up to 900 panicked guests rushing towards the exits as the hall is engulfed in flames and filled with toxic smoke in seconds. Survivors said many were left trapped in the burning building as they couldn’t see through the black smoke. The bride and groom were among the more than 100 people killed in the deadly blaze according to health officials, while 150 more are injured – 50 critically.
Hundreds of wedding guests, many of them children, were rushed to hospital with severe burns across their bodies, with many fighting for their lives. Wedding guest Rania Waad, who sustained a burn to her hand, said that as Haneen and Revan ‘were slow dancing, the fireworks started to climb to the ceiling and the whole hall went up in flames. We couldn’t see anything,’ the 17-year-old said, choking back sobs. ‘We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.’ Other wedding guests also said that the blaze was caused by fireworks, which had been set off during the first dance. A man injured in the fire, speaking from his hospital bed, said: ‘They lit up fireworks. It hit the ceiling, which caught fire. The entire hall was on fire in seconds.’
Witnesses said the wedding hall caught fire at around 10.45pm local time (8.45pm UK time) during the couple’s first dance. Video shows wedding guests dancing together before the newlyweds walked onto the dance floor. Harrowing footage shows Haneen resting her head against Revan while he holds her waist as they share their first dance. But within minutes, the wedding turned into a nightmare as the blaze broke out, sending shards of burning material to the ground around them. Panicked guests began running out of the burning building, but over 100 were trapped inside and died of burns and smoke inhalation.
Chaotic scenes were seen outside the building, with screaming guests crying for help from medics who had quickly arrived on the scene. Injured wedding guests were later seen lying in hospital beds with bandages covering the burns they sustained in the horrific blaze. Ahmed Dubardani, a health official in the province, said: ‘The majority of them were completely burned and some others had 50 to 60 per cent of their bodies burned. This is not good at all. The majority of them were not in good condition.’ In the blaze’s aftermath, only charred metal and debris could be seen as emergency crews sifted through the scene of utter devastation.
While there is no official word on the cause of the blaze, footage showed fireworks shooting up from the floor of the event and setting a chandelier aflame, which echoes the testimony of injured wedding guests. This was made worse by the wedding hall’s exterior being decorated with ‘highly flammable’ cladding that is illegal in Iraq, civil defence officials quoted by the Iraqi News Agency said.
The danger was compounded by the ‘release of toxic gases linked to the combustion of the panels’, which contained plastic, they said. ‘The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials,’ the civil defence authorities said, with ‘preliminary information’ suggesting fireworks were to blame for the blaze. Father Rudi Saffar Khoury, a priest at the wedding, said it was unclear who was to blame for the fire.
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. Anger is simmering in the area after it emerged that the exterior of the wedding hall had been covered in the illegal cladding. 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 U.S.-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. Safety standards in Iraq’s construction sector are often disregarded, and the country, whose infrastructure is in disrepair after decades of conflict, is often the scene of fatal fires and accidents.
In July 2021, a fire in the Covid unit of a hospital in southern Iraq killed more than 60 people. And in April of the same year, exploding oxygen tanks triggered a fire at a hospital in Baghdad – also dedicated to Covid patients – that killed more than 80 people. Like many Christian towns in the Nineveh Plains, northeast of Mosul, Qaraqosh was ransacked by jihadists of the Islamic State group in 2014. Qaraqosh and its churches were slowly rebuilt after the group was ousted in 2017, and Pope Francis visited the town in March 2021. Read the full story: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12564285/At-100-people-dead-horrific-fire-breaks-Iraqi-wedding.html?ito=msngallery
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