World (AP)

Iraq’s prime minister visits wedding fire victims as 2 more people die from their injuries | AP News

Iraq’s prime minister visits wedding fire victims as 2 more people die from their injuries | AP News

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s prime minister on Thursday visited injured patients and the families of victims in northern Iraq days after a deadly wedding fire killed around 100 people, as two more people died from their injuries and additional remains were recovered.

Mohammed Shia al-Sudani arrived in Nineveh province early Thursday with a delegation of ministers and security officials, state television reported. He met with the wounded and family members of victims at Hamdaniyah Hospital and Al-Jumhoori Hospital. He later visited the Syriac Catholic Mar Behnam Monastery to express his condolences to victims.

Around 250 panicked guests surged for the exits on Tuesday night in the Haitham Royal Wedding Hall in the predominantly Christian area of Hamdaniya near Mosul after the ceiling panels above a pyrotechnic machine burst into flames.

Two critically burned victims — a 30-year-old woman and a 4-year-old child — died from their injuries in the hospital, a health official told The Associated Press on Thursday. The remains of a child and a woman were also recovered under the rubble at the wedding venue, according to a security official. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Authorities said around 100 people died in the incident, and the death toll is expected to rise further with at least 100 other people still injured, many of them critically burned.

The venue’s owners have been accused of violating safety protocols.

The Mosul Municipality on Wednesday called for the closure of hotels, restaurants, and other venues that don’t have safety approvals or have ignored warnings.

Funeral processions continued Thursday at the Saint Behnam Syriac Catholic Church. A video circulating on Iraqi media and social media showed the bride and groom among the crowd mourning.

The Interior Ministry said highly flammable building materials contributed to the disaster and accused the owners of violating safety and security protocols. The tragedy was the latest to hit Iraq’s Christian minority, which has dwindled to a fraction of its former size over the past decade.

A security official told the AP that one of the venue’s owners and 13 workers and employees are currently under investigation. The official said that negligence caused the incident and that the government is preparing to compensate survivors and the families of victims. He speak on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

A government spokesperson said the authorities will conduct strict inspections of hotels, schools, restaurants and event venues to make sure they are complying with safety standards.

One owner of the venue, Chonny Suleiman Naboo, told The Associated Press that an electrical fault caused the fire and denied that they had neglected safety procedures.


Chehayeb reported from Beirut.