A fire ripped through a wedding venue in Hamdaniyah, in Iraq’s Nineveh province last night, resulting in the loss of at least 114 lives and injuring 150 others. The venue was hosting the wedding ceremony of an Assyrian Christian couple. Hamdaniyah, also known as Qaraqosh or Bakhdida, is predominantly inhabited by members of the Assyrian Christian community.
The fire broke out in a hall constructed from materials that did not meet safety standards. Preliminary investigations by Iraq’s civil defence teams suggest that fireworks set off during the celebration were the likely cause. Flammable materials used in the construction of the hall accelerated the inferno, causing parts of the ceiling to collapse.
Security officials detained staff at the wedding hall in the aftermath of the fire as part of their ongoing investigation. The incident has added to the suffering of Iraq’s already dwindling Christian minority, which has been targeted by extremists over the past two decades.
Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani has ordered an investigation into the incident and called for immediate relief efforts.