02 Oct Iraq Wedding Fire: Call for accountability
Over 113 died, and more than 200 were injured after a Baghdad wedding fire in the Christian town of Qaraqosh.
Those who were at the wedding, and those affected, have called for accountability on behalf of government officials, blaming a lack of safety and security measures for the blaze occurring.
According to the state-run Iraqi News Agency, the Civil Defence Directorate has found the hall was covered in highly flammable metal composite panels, also known as sandwich panels, which are in violation of safety regulations.
“The fire led to the collapse of parts of the hall as a result of the use of highly flammable, low-cost building materials that collapse within minutes when the fire breaks out,” Interior ministry spokesman Maj Gen Saad Maan reported online. The fire was exacerbated by the release of toxic gases linked to combustion trapped within the panels.
A service was carried out, bringing together those affected, wedding go-ers stood in unison, some with burnt hands and faces, some wailing at the traumatic losses they have gone through.
Both bride and groom survived the fire, though both suffered minor burns and lost close relatives, a friend of the couple told AFP on Thursday.
Authorities have condemned the venue, and have arrested 10 of the venue’s staff, its owner and three people involved in the use of the indoor fireworks which started the blaze, further action is expected to be taken following a formal investigation.