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Tragic Iraq Wedding Blaze: Over 100 Lives Lost in Qaraqosh

Tragic Iraq Wedding Blaze: Over 100 Lives Lost in Qaraqosh

Tragic Iraq Wedding Blaze: Over 100 Lives Lost in Qaraqosh

Tragic Iraq Wedding Blaze: Over 100 Lives Lost in Qaraqosh

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  • A tragic fire at a wedding in Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, claims over 100 lives and leaves 150 injured.
  • Unclear cause, with reports suggesting fireworks may have triggered the blaze.
  • Highly flammable building materials contributed to the rapid spread and structural collapse.
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A tragic incident unfolded in the largest Christian town in Iraq, as more than 100 individuals lost their lives, and approximately 150 others sustained injuries during a fire outbreak that occurred at a wedding celebration in Qaraqosh, located in Nineveh province.

The incident took place while a large gathering was commemorating the wedding in a banquet hall.

The exact cause of the fire remains uncertain, although some reports suggest that fireworks may have triggered it.

The fire rapidly spread due to the presence of flammable panels, ultimately causing portions of the ceiling to ignite and collapse, as confirmed by fire officials.

Iraq’s civil defense directorate stated that the use of highly flammable and inexpensive construction materials contributed to the swift collapse of parts of the hall when the fire erupted.

It remains unclear whether the newlywed couple were among the casualties. Disturbing footage circulated online, showing the couple dancing on the floor just before flaming debris began falling around them.

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Rescue efforts were underway as firefighters bravely navigated the wreckage of the structure in their search for survivors on Wednesday morning.

Eyewitnesses at the scene recounted that the venue was hosting hundreds of attendees when the fire broke out at approximately 10:45 PM local time (19:45 GMT) on Tuesday.

“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno, told Reuters.

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Another wedding guest, Rania Waad, who sustained a burn to her hand, said that as the bride and groom were slow dancing “fireworks started to climb to the ceiling, and the whole hall went up in flames”.

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“We couldn’t see anything,” the 17-year-old told news agency AFP. “We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.”

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Another survivor said several members of his family were among the victims.

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“When it [the fire] happened my mother was in the bathroom,” he said.

“I couldn’t find her after. I searched for my daughter, my son, my wife, and my father and I couldn’t find them. They are gone.”

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Iraq’s president posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he had told officials to “mobilize all efforts to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate incident”.

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Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has announced plans for building inspections and a thorough review of safety procedures, vowing to hold responsible authorities accountable for any negligence in the wake of the tragic incident.

Additionally, he declared three days of national mourning.

The precise count of victims remains uncertain, with conflicting reports. Deputy Governor of Nineveh, Hassan al-Allaq, confirmed 113 fatalities, while the Red Crescent humanitarian group reported a total of nearly 450 casualties, including both the deceased and the injured.

The regional governor, as reported by INA, expressed concerns that the tally of fatalities and injuries may increase.

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In response to the emergency, the injured individuals have been transferred to hospitals throughout the Nineveh region.

At the primary hospital in Qaraqosh, situated approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Mosul, numerous individuals arrived to donate blood in support of those injured.

It’s worth noting that Qaraqosh is also recognized as al-Hamdaniya and Bakhdida in Iraq.

An Iraqi journalist in Erbil, where victims are also receiving treatment, informed the BBC that there is a shortage of logistical resources for rescue efforts, and Mosul is facing challenges with an insufficient number of ambulances, medical personnel, and equipment.

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“Local officials of Mosul, they all blame the Iraqi government because they didn’t solve the problem of hospitals, and generally, the problem of the health sector in Mosul after the ISIS (Islamic State group) occupation of the city,” added Blesa Shaways.

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In 2017, Mosul was liberated from the grip of ISIS after a grueling battle that left the city severely devastated.

While some media outlets have reported that the couple celebrated a Christian wedding, it’s important to note that this detail has not been officially confirmed.

Before its capture by ISIS in 2014, Qaraqosh held the distinction of being Iraq’s largest Christian town. The majority of its residents fled in the face of persecution.

During the period of ISIS control, the extremist group committed numerous atrocities against the Christian population that remained in Qaraqosh.

Their reign of terror came to an end in 2016 when Iraqi and US-led coalition forces reclaimed the town. Tragically, over 2,000 homes were reportedly reduced to ashes.

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Since its liberation, approximately half of Qaraqosh’s residents have returned. However, the reconstruction of many of the homes that were destroyed during the conflict remains unfinished.

Such incidents are unfortunately not uncommon in Iraq, where corruption and mismanagement are widespread, and accountability is often lacking.

In 2021, officials cited a lack of safety measures as a contributing factor in a fire that claimed the lives of nearly 100 individuals at a hospital in the city of Nasiriya.

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