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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Agent

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are looking to work with...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Agent

£16000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a vibrant, fast-pace...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician with expe...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£50000 - £75000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Manager is requir...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food