SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 18 July 2024, Thursday |

Iraqi committee: Fireworks caused the wedding hall tragedy

The investigative committee formed by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Sudani concluded that fireworks were responsible for the tragic blaze at the Hamdaniya wedding hall, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of over 200 individuals.

During a press conference attended by Interior Minister Abdel Amir al-Shammari and other officials, the committee revealed that the fireworks were the primary cause of the fire.

The committee’s chair, Major General Saad Faleh Ksar al-Dulaimi, noted that the hall, with a capacity of 500 people, was constructed with iron, cement, block walls, and a roof made of combustible materials.

Dulaimi further pointed out that within the hall there was a room containing large quantities of fabric used for decoration and storage of large amounts of alcohol, with no emergency exits available.

The “main cause” of the fire was four fireworks that shot showers of sparks four meters high, Dulaimi said, adding that these ignited the prefabricated panels in the ceiling and the hall’s decorations.

The head of the commission said the death toll currently stands at 107, adding that there are 82 injuries.

The owner of the hall, local officials, and directors of municipal services and electricity were blamed for negligence and irresponsibility.

Furthermore, the committee highlighted that civil defense was negligent in monitoring the hall’s closure procedures for non-compliance with safety regulations.

The adviser to the Minister of the Interior, Major General Kadhim Bohan, stated during the conference that the incident was accidental and unintentional, and there were shortcomings from the wedding hall owners and resulted from gross negligence.

Bohan pointed out that “fireworks generated very high thermal energy and were used inside the hall, as the decoration on the ceiling of the hall is sensitive to heat and flammable, in addition to that the floor of the hall is also flammable, and the hall contains a storage of large quantities of alcohol.”

The adviser underscored that the swift collapse of the wedding hall hindered rescue operations significantly.

Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shammari explained that the presence of cooling devices, combustible materials, and the lack of emergency exits accelerated the fire spread.

Shammari indicated that the hall owner increased its capacity by adding more tables and chairs covered with flammable materials.

The Minister highlighted that on the night of the incident, the owner had prepared 900 dinner servings, which collectively expedited the fire’s spread.

The hall owner reportedly pulled out the camera surveillance device and fled to Erbil, where he was arrested and showed the recordings.

The Minister revealed that the committee recommended that the victims of al-Hamdaniya be considered martyrs, being a religious minority, and follow-up the investigation of the accused and coordination with the judiciary and witnesses.

The committee advised offering financial aid to the injured and covering their treatment expenses within and outside the country at the state’s expense.

The recommendations also encompassed the formation of specialized committees to oversee the arrest process of those accused in the case, monitor the progress of the investigation, and refer the accused to the judiciary.

The committee further recommended the dismissal of Hamdaniya local officials, including its mayor, the director of its municipality, the director of tourism classification in Nineveh, the director of Hamdaniya electricity, and the director of fire and safety at the Nineveh Civil.

Moreover, it was suggested that the director of Civil Defense in the governorate be referred to the specialized committee and that an investigative board be established to look into his actions.

 

    Source:
  • Asharq Al-Awsat