More than 100 people were tragically killed and 150 others were injured in a catastrophic blaze that consumed a wedding party in Iraq’s Nineveh province.
The terrible event occurred in the area of Hamdaniya, where a major events hall became the site of unspeakable loss and turmoil.
As the flames burned on, civil defence teams searched the burned remains of the structure in vain for survivors.
According to Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari, the fire erupted after flares were lit during the wedding celebration, causing a blaze to spread rapidly through the hall’s ceiling.
Shocking video footage, yet to be verified, captured the moment when the flares ignited a glittering ceiling decoration, turning a joyous occasion into a scene of panic and horror.
Another video that Reuters has not yet verified showed a couple dancing in wedding clothes when burning material began dropping to the floor.
Witnesses described the sounds of excitement abruptly transforming into cries of distress as attendees scrambled to escape the rapidly spreading flames.
“We saw saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck,” said Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno.
Another man who was in the hospital with his injured brother said men, women and children had died.
Asked how the fire started, he continued:
“They were about to do a slow dance, so they lit up flares. It hit the ceiling, which caught fire.”
In response to the tragedy, the Interior Ministry has issued four arrest warrants for the owners of the wedding hall, signaling the start of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire.
Preliminary information indicated that the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to its rapid collapse.