Civil defense members inspect the scene of a fire that broke out during a wedding at an event hall in Al-Hamdaniyah, Iraq on Sept. 27. (Photo: AFP)
At least 100 people were killed and more than 150 injured when a fire broke out during a wedding at an event hall in the northern Iraqi town of Hamdaniyah, state media and health officials said early Wednesday.
Health authorities in Nineveh province "have counted 100 dead and more than 150 injured in the fire at a marriage hall in Hamdaniyah", the official Iraqi press agency INA reported, citing a "preliminary tally" confirmed to AFP by a spokesperson for the country's health ministry.
At the main hospital in Hamdaniyah, a predominantly Christian town east of Mosul, an AFP photographer saw several ambulances arriving with sirens blaring and dozens of people gathering in the courtyard to donate blood.
Some people were also seen gathering at the doors of a refrigerated truck carrying several black body bags.
In a statement, civil defense authorities reported the presence of prefabricated panels that were "highly flammable and contravened safety standards" inside the event hall where the blaze took place.
"The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials," the statement said.
"Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding, which triggered a fire in the hall."
Safety standards in Iraq's construction and transport sectors are often disregarded, and the country, whose infrastructure is in disrepair after decades of conflict, is regularly the scene of fatal fires and accidents.