QARAQOSH-At least 100 people have died and 101 others are injured after a fire broke out during a wedding in Iraq’s biggest Christian town on Tuesday night.
Hundreds were celebrating at a banqueting hall in Qaraqosh, in Nineveh province, when the tragedy happened. Witnesses and civil defence officials said the fire was sparked by fireworks set off as the bride and groom danced.
Highly flammable metal and plastic composite panels that covered the hall fuelled the blaze, they added.
Security forces arrested nine of the venue’s staff and its owner on Wednesday.
Later, hundreds of mourners attended a funeral for more than 40 of the victims at a cemetery in Qaraqosh, which is also known as al-Hamdaniya and Bakhdida. Some carried portraits of their deceased loved ones.
In an address, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako described the fire as a “complete and total catastrophe”, according to Iraqi Kurdish news agency Rudaw. Alsumaria TV, meanwhile, showed footage of a man at the funeral who it identified as the groom.