Kuwait wedding fire 'killed 41 in three minutes'

The fire at a wedding tent in Kuwait that killed 41 women and children consumed the structure in an intense blaze lasting just three minutes, the head of the country's fire brigade said today.

Speaking the day after the disaster, Jassem al-Mansouri said: "It was a horrific scene with bodies and many shoes stuck to the ground at the only exit; they must have trampled over one another."

He said that Kuwaiti authorities were running DNA tests to identify the 35 women and six children killed in the fire, which left many victims unrecognisable.

Authorities were investigating the cause and Mr al-Mansouri said it could have been either faulty electrical wiring in the equipment used to keep the wedding food buffet warm or the coals used for burning incense.

He added that the fire in al-Jahra, a tribal area west of the capital, was the worst he has seen in almost 40 years of service in the small, oil-rich state.

Photographs of the scene show that the tent was erected in an urban area. The interior was strewn with blackened debris, including the metal frames of chairs and tables, and burnt-out air conditioners - a necessity in a country where night temperatures in the summer are often above 40 degrees.

It was not clear if the bride survived or how many were in the tent when it caught fire. Mr al-Mansouri said the structure was 12 metres long and could have housed up to 180 people.

Wedding parties are held separately for women and men, with children attending the women's event. The parties usually feature a catered buffet dinner as well as singing and dancing to Kuwaiti and Arabic music.

No alcohol is served in Kuwait.

Mr al-Mansouri said 58 casualties were still in hospitals, seven of them in a serious condition with severe burns.

He added that events in tents should be licensed so that authorities approve the type of tent set up and ensure it has the necessary safety features. Yesterday's event was not licensed.

The upholstery and the stuffing of the chairs used was also highly flammable, Mr al-Mansouri said.

The Interior Ministry has called on Kuwaitis to stop erecting tents in the middle of crowded neighbourhoods and there has been talk of banning them altogether.

Tents are also used in election campaigns, but by permit only.

The government has opened a telephone line and an information centre for relatives of the victims, Kuwaiti state television said.

The country's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, extended condolences to the families of the victims, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

He also announced that in sympathy with the victims and their families he would not be receiving well wishers as he traditionally does for the advent of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on August 22.



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Healthcare expertise

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf