Police officers inspect the scene Wednesday, the morning after a fire broke out at a wedding hall in Hamdaniya town, Nineveh province, north of Iraq. Photo by Mohammad Saif/EPA-EFE
Sept. 27 (UPI) -- At least 100 people died and more than 150 more were severely burned after a fire raced through a crowded wedding hall in the northern Iraqi town of Nineveh Plain on Tuesday, officials said.
Authorities said about 1,000 people attended the wedding in the Al Haithem wedding hall in the Hamdaniya district, southwest of Mosul. The district's mayor, Issam Behnam, said some of his relatives died in the fire.
Some of those attending the wedding told officials flares had been fired toward the ceiling of the hall while the bride and groom danced. The flare shooting is a local wedding tradition, but the flares are typically fired outside.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani's office said his government has ordered all ministries, governorates and state institutions, to respond to the fire.
The ministers of interior and health are offering immediate aid to the injured, overseeing rescue efforts and providing assistance.
"The relevant health authorities are tasked with treating the injured individuals with the highest level of care, addressing their medical treatment needs both within and outside Iraq, as necessary," the prime minister's office said.
He also ordered a three-day period of nationwide mourning and called for an investigative committee to be established into the fire.
"Inspections of buildings and verification of safety procedures will be conducted by all ministries and governments with the relevant authorities held accountable for any negligence," he said.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, which has advised and supported the government of Iraq since 2003, expressed its condolences.
"Shocked and pained by the horrible loss of life and injuries in the fire in Ninewa's Hamdaniya," the mission wrote on the X platform. "An immense tragedy. Our sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones. We wish the injured a speedy recovery."