"Pyrotechnics do not belong indoors": Iraq wedding fire video detailing exact moment which triggered blaze goes viral
On the night of Tuesday, September 26, a Christian wedding happening in Qaraqosh, northern Iraq, turned into a tragedy when a fire broke out in the venue and claimed the lives of more than 100 guests. As per Al Jazeera, over 150 people remain injured, and the death toll may rise in the next few days.
Initially, it was falsely published that the bride and the groom succumbed to the deadly blaze. However, as per BBC’s latest reports, both of them survived and suffered minor burn injuries.
In the wake of the incident, a video has surfaced on social media platforms showing the exact moment when the fire started. Not only that, but several media houses, including BBC, confirmed the cause of the fire: the fireworks, which were reserved for the wedding celebrations alongside highly flammable building materials stored inside the venue, acted as propellants.
In this regard, an X (formerly Twitter) user commented under @BNONews’ post, reporting the same:
The Iraq wedding fire broke out during the first dance of the bride and groom
On Tuesday, around 10.45 pm local time, a devastating fire broke out at a wedding venue in the Hamdaniya or Qaraqosh district in the northern Iraqi province of Ninevah, situated 400 kilometers northwest of the capital city of Baghdad.
According to Ninevah Deputy Governor Hassan al-Allaq’s statement to Al Jazeera, at least 113 individuals died, and more than 150 were battling for their lives in the local hospital. He said the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days. As per the news outlet, over 1,000 invitees were at the venue when the fire started.
On Wednesday, September 27, a morgue in Mosul held funerals for the nearly 50 victims as grieving relatives came together to mourn. Amidst these developments, an initial investigation by Iraq’s civil defense department revealed to all media sources, including BBC, that the fireworks, which were stocked up as part of the wedding celebration, triggered the fire in the large wedding hall.
As per a report by Al Jazeera, local first responders and emergency personnel said that besides the fireworks, other flammable construction materials, such as prefabricated panels, were also present inside the Iraq wedding venue. The report further claimed that the venue did not have “proper safety measures,” such as adequate emergency exits.
In the wake of all the media reports, footage from the wedding venue focusing on exactly when and how the flames began has emerged on the internet. The viral clipping shows that the fire started during the first dance of the bridegroom, near the roof, causing the ceiling to collapse in the middle of the venue, which further made escape and evacuation difficult.
Additionally, the combustion of the panels (which contained plastics) released toxic gases, further deteriorating the situation and asphyxiating many attendees.
In the aftermath of the destructive blazes, firefighters had to work through metallic and flammable rubble and collapsed roofs to rescue the people stuck inside. On Wednesday, September 27, a spokesperson of Iraq’s health ministry told Al Jazeera:
“All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident.”
Meanwhile, relatives of the victims of the Iraq wedding fire gave first-hand accounts of the tragedy to media outlets. Marian Khedr, a middle-aged woman who lost her 27-year-old daughter Rana Yakoub and three grandkids, told Al Jazeera:
“This was not a wedding. This was hell.”
A 34-year-old survivor named Imad Yohana told the media outlet:
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out, and those who didn’t got stuck.”
Another woman from the Iraq wedding fire who refused to be named told BBC how she lost all members of her family, including her husband and two children.
“They were all burned. My heart is burning,” she said.
A 19-year-old Ghaly Nassim, who was not among the invitees but was near the venue, described the incident as “a real tragedy.”
While many victims were cremated on Wednesday, others were to be buried on Thursday. As per BBC, most of the dead were children. However, many people were still unaccounted for.
As per the news source, Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has launched an investigation into the fire and has ordered the nation’s home and health ministries to help with the rescue, relief, and recovery. Medical aid trucks have also been deployed from Baghdad to the affected region. So far, four arrest warrants have been issued for the owners of the wedding venue.