A fire that raced through a hall hosting a Christian wedding in northern Iraq killed at least 100 people and injured 150 others, authorities said Wednesday, warning the death toll could rise.
The fire happened in Iraq’s Nineveh province in its Hamdaniya area, authorities said. That’s a predominantly Christian area just outside of the city of Mosul, some 335 kilometers northwest of the capital, Baghdad.
Television footage showed flames rushing over the wedding hall as the fire took hold. In the blaze’s aftermath, only charred metal and debris could be seen as people walked through the scene of the fire, the only light coming from television cameras and the lights of onlookers’ mobile phones.
Survivors arrived at local hospitals, receiving oxygen and bandaged, as their families milled through hallways and outside as workers organized more oxygen cylinders.
The health department in Nineveh province raised the death toll to 114. Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr earlier put the number of injured at 150 via state news agency.
“All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident,” al-Badr said.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation into the fire and asked the country’s Interior and Health officials to provide relief, his office said in a statement online.
Najim al-Jubouri, the provincial governor of Nineveh, said some of the injured had been transferred to regional hospitals. He cautioned there were no final casualty figures yet from the blaze, which suggests the death toll still may rise.
There was no immediate official word on the cause of the blaze but initial reports by the Kurdish television news channel Rudaw suggested fireworks at the venue may have sparked the fire