A joyous wedding celebration in the largest Christian town in Iraq, Nineveh province, turned sour by a fire outbreak, which claimed over 100 participants and left another 150 injured.
Even while there have been rumors that pyrotechnics may have started the fire, its actual origin is still unknown. Due to flammable panels, the fire spread quickly, causing some of the ceiling to fall.
The use of cheap, highly flammable building materials, which collapsed within minutes of the fire’s start, was bemoaned by Iraq’s civil defense administration. The future of the couple is yet unknown.
Disturbing footage captured the couple dancing moments before flaming debris rained down upon the dance floor. Brave firefighters tirelessly searched through the wreckage for survivors.
Eyewitnesses recalled the horror of the night when hundreds of guests were trapped as the fire erupted at approximately 22:45 local time. Imad Yohana, a survivor, recounted the chaotic scene, describing the fire as “pulsating” and noting the devastating impact on those who struggled to escape.
Rania Waad, who suffered burns to her hand, shared her terrifying experience, recounting that fireworks set off the blaze as the bride and groom slow danced. The entire hall quickly became an inferno, leaving guests disoriented and gasping for air.
One survivor’s harrowing account revealed the anguish of searching for missing family members amidst the chaos, with loved ones lost in the tragic event.
In response to this catastrophe, Iraq’s president expressed condolences on social media and called for unified efforts to aid the affected individuals. The prime minister pledged to conduct building inspections and scrutinize safety procedures, holding those responsible accountable.
The number of casualties remains uncertain, with varying reports. The deputy governor of Nineveh confirmed 113 fatalities while the Red Crescent humanitarian group estimated nearly 450 casualties in total.
Regional authorities anticipate the toll may rise.
Injured survivors were transported to hospitals across the Nineveh region, with many donating blood to assist their fellow citizens. The city of Mosul, still grappling with the aftermath of ISIS occupation, faced challenges in responding to the crisis due to a lack of logistical resources.
Qaraqosh, once the largest Christian town in Iraq, witnessed a painful past when it fell to ISIS in 2014, prompting mass exodus and persecution. Although it has since been liberated, the town continues to rebuild, with numerous homes yet to be reconstructed.