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
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project