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Mosul, September 28: A devastating fire believed to have been caused by fireworks set off to celebrate a Christian wedding has engulfed a crowded hall in northern Iraq, resulting in the tragic loss of life. The fire killed at least 100 people and injured about 150 others, with officials warning that the death toll could still rise.
Reports indicate that the use of flammable construction materials may have exacerbated the disaster in the predominantly Christian area located near Mosul in Nineveh province, about 205 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Although the official cause of the fire has not yet been determined, Kurdish television news channel Rudaw broadcast footage showing fireworks bursting from the venue, setting a chandelier on fire. After the fire, the scene was covered in burnt metal and debris, and spectators were using mobile phones and television cameras to illuminate the scene.
Survivors, including children, were taken to local hospitals, many of them wrapped in bandages and requiring oxygen. Families of the injured waited anxiously in the corridors of the hospital as staff struggled to provide additional oxygen cylinders.
Other local television networks aired footage that showed the bride and groom on the dance floor at the time of the fire. The couple appeared stunned as debris burned around them. It is not clear whether they were among the injured.
Eyewitnesses described the horrific sequence of events, with one injured woman describing how the fire broke out as the couple were about to begin a slow dance. According to him, fireworks were lit, but they hit the ceiling, causing the flames to quickly spread throughout the hall.
Health officials in Nineveh province raised the death toll to 114, although federal officials have not yet updated their figure, which is set at a minimum of 100 deaths.