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Iraq Wedding Fire: At Least 100 Killed and 150 Injured in Qaraqosh

An enormous fire broke out during a wedding celebration in the town of Qaraqosh, situated in Nineveh province. The fire, which ejected late at night, has killed over 100 individuals and left more than 150 others injured, making it perhaps of the deadliest fire in recent memory in Iraq.

Iraq Wedding Fire: At Least 100 Killed and 150 Injured in Qaraqosh

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The misfortune unfurled at al-Haitham Hall, a famous event venue situated on the outskirts of Qaraqosh, otherwise called Bakhdida, a town that holds a critical spot in Iraq’s history.

Qaraqosh, once the largest Christian town in Iraq, faced immense hardship during the occupation of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014. However, it had been on the path to recovery, with many residents returning to rebuild their lives after the liberation of the town in 2017.

The disastrous event was a wedding celebration, a glad event that ought to have been overflowing with joy and love.

Hundreds of guests had gathered in the spacious banquet hall to partake in the festivities. The event followed an earlier church service, and the atmosphere was brimming with anticipation and excitement.

The fire started to unfurl between 10:00 PM and 10:45 PM nearby time (19:00-19:45 GMT), around an hour into the wedding celebration.

Witnesses described how the fire when several fireworks were set off as part of the celebration. Flares and sparks from the fireworks made contact with a ceiling decoration, leading to the rapid spread of flames.

Eyewitnesses recounted the sudden transformation of joy into chaos and panic. A video posted on social media, although not yet verified by official sources, appeared to capture the moment when the ceiling decoration caught fire, sending the room into turmoil.

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In another video, guests in wedding attire can be seen desperately trying to escape the falling debris as flames engulf the hall.

The fire, powered by the exceptionally flammable materials utilized in the hall’s construction, quickly consumed the entire structure.

This misfortune unfurled in only minutes, leaving many guests with no means of escape. Those who managed to get out faced the harrowing task of locating their loved ones amid the chaos.

The exact number of casualties remains uncertain, but early reports indicate that over 100 lives were tragically lost, while more than 150 people sustained injuries, some with severe burns. Families, friends, and loved ones are left to grapple with the profound grief and trauma of this horrific event.

Among the victims, there were poignant stories of individuals and families who had attended the celebration.

A heart-wrenching account shared by a relative revealed that the bride and groom, named Haneen and Rivaan, survived the fire but were in a deeply distressed psychological state. Their joyous day had turned into a nightmare beyond imagination.

Survivors and witnesses described scenes of devastation and loss. One survivor, Imad Yohana, recounted how he saw the fire pulsating and coming out of the hall, leaving those trapped inside with little chance of escape.

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Another man, Youssef, managed to rescue his three-year-old grandson but tragically lost his wife, Bashra Mansour, in the chaos.

In the repercussions of this horrendous occasion, rescue efforts were launched immediately. Firefighters and emergency responders risked their lives to search for survivors amid the charred remains of the hall.

The injured were moved to clinics across the Nineveh district, where medical services experts worked vigorously to give clinical consideration to those in need.

The Deputy Governor of Nineveh, Hassan al-Allaq, confirmed the devastating death toll, emphasizing the need for thorough investigations.

He stated that 113 people had been confirmed dead, while the Red Crescent humanitarian group reported nearly 450 individuals affected by the fire, including both fatalities and injuries. Moreover, the regional governor cautioned that the numbers could still rise as the situation unfolds.

Because of this misfortune, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced three days of national mourning. He pledged to hold those responsible for any negligence or violations of safety regulations accountable.

Building inspections and safety procedures across various public venues, including shopping centers, restaurants, event halls, and hotels, will be intensively scrutinized and enforced.

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