Lethal wedding fire 'started by ex-wife'

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The Independent Online

A massive fire that destroyed a Kuwaiti wedding tent and killed more than 40 women inside was started by the groom's ex-wife, it emerged today.

Police refused to name her, but confirmed a woman was in custody and had "confessed to committing the crime for personal reasons".

The inferno on Saturday in the tribal area of al-Jahra, west of Kuwait City, destroyed the women's tent in just three minutes.

It was still unclear today if the bride had survived.

Kuwaiti newspapers speculated on the cause of the fire, saying that the groom's former wife was to blame.

The independent Al-Qabas daily said the groom's former wife, who is 23, poured petrol on the tent and lit it because she felt her ex-husband mistreated her when they were married.

The "final and exact" death toll discussed in a high-level security meeting today was 41, said the Kuwaiti Fire Department

The fire chief, who described the fire as the worst disaster he has seen in almost 40 years of service, said six bodies were still unidentified and it was not known if the bride survived the carnage.

Fifty-two others injured in the blaze remained in hospital.

Kuwaitis celebrate weddings in separate parties for men and women, with children attending the women's event which features singing and dancing and a dinner buffet.

In tribal regions, some hold these parties in tents, a custom rooted in Kuwait's nomadic heritage. In wealthier urban areas, such parties take place in five-star hotels or special halls.

Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said that out of sympathy for the victims he will not be receiving the customary well wishers for the advent of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts later this week.

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