In the early hours of Wednesday, civil defense workers were still scouring the burned remains of a structure for survivors after a wedding party fire in the Hamdaniya area of Iraq’s Nineveh province claimed the lives of over 100 people and injured 150 more.
Hassan al-Allaq, the deputy governor of Nineveh, told Reuters that 113 deaths had been confirmed; however, official media reported that at least 100 people had died and 150 had been injured.
The fire ripped through a large events hall in the north-eastern region after fireworks were lit during the celebration, local civil defence said, according to state media.
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” said Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno.
Video from a Reuters correspondent at the site showed firefighters clambering over the charred wreckage of the building, shining lights over smouldering ruins.
Preliminary information indicated that the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to its rapid collapse, state media said.
Ambulances and medical crews were dispatched to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.
Eyewitnesses at the site said the building caught fire at around 10:45 p.m. local time (1945 GMT) and that hundreds of people were in attendance at the time of the incident.