A wedding in the province of Nineveh, located in northern Iraq, ended in tragedy. At least 100 people died and around 150 were injured after a fire broke out in the assembly hall where the banquet was being held.
Najm Al Jubouri, governor of Nineveh, noted that "there is no final count of the deceased and injured yet."
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According to initial investigations, the launching of fireworks and the lighting of candles and other objects caused the fire, which quickly spread throughout the room. In addition, the place was covered in a highly flammable material and did not comply with safety regulations, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Civil Defense and reported by CNN:
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 fire breaks out.
Most of the victims were Christians.
Sayyed Ammar Hakim, head of the national alliance of State Forces, confirmed that the majority of those killed were Christians :
We were saddened by the news of the terrible fire in Al-Hamdaniya district in Nineveh governorate, where a large number of victims fell, most of them from our beloved Christians, and while we express our great condolences to their families and relatives, we pray to the Almighty to grant a speedy recovery and grant the families of the deceased patience and solace.
Furthermore, Ammar Hakim said that this tragic event "make us aware of the importance of strengthening safety procedures and awareness and stressing them by the concerned authorities to avoid their reoccurrence."
Three days of national mourning
The Iraqi government declared three days of national mourning due to the tragic event. "Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani has ordered a three-day nationwide mourning period in Iraq to honor the victims of the tragic fire in Al-Hamdaniya (Bakhdida) in the Nineveh Plain region," the Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.
Furthermore, the prime minister's office added that it "has instructed all government bodies, including ministries, governorates, and state institutions, to promptly implement necessary actions in response to the tragic fire at a wedding hall in Al-Hamdaniya district (Bakhdida) in Nineveh Governorate."
For its part, the office of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani conveyed its condolences to the families and relatives of the victims:
The supreme religious authority expresses deep sorrow and regret for the terrible fire incident that occurred in Al-Hamdaniya district and resulted in hundreds of victims and injured. The authority offers its condolences to the bereaved families and expresses its solidarity with them.