Bride and groom of tragic Iraqi wedding appear to join grieving mourners

The newlyweds reportedly escaped the fire through a kitchen door

Alex Ross
Thursday 28 September 2023 18:38 BST
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Deadly fire tears through Iraq wedding

The bride and groom of a wedding celebration in Iraq where a devastating fire killed around 100 people have joined crowds of mourners remembering the victims.

The newlywed pair, named locally as Haneen and Revan, were initially thought to have died in the inferno at the banqueting hall in the Christian town of Qaraqosh, in Nineveh province, on Tuesday night - but survived after reportedly escaping through a kitchen door.

On Thursday, video emerged on social media purportedly showing them with grieving families remembering the victims, despite them having been treated in hospital following the fire. The footage appeared to show the groom sobbing with a man holding him up from behind.

The bride and groom were said to be among the mourners who gathered after a fire at their wedding celebration killed more than 100 people

Bizhar Zubair, news editor at Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, wrote on X: “Groom’s first appearance after his heartfelt attempt to start a new family took a tragic turn at his wedding as a devastating fire in the wedding party hall left numerous families shattered.”

Middle East author Ninve Ermagan also wrote on the platform: “You can see the pain of the bride and groom - it is a tragedy for the already disadvantaged Assyrian Christian minority.”

On Thursday two more burn victims - a 30-year-old woman and a four-year-old child - died from their injuries.

Dozens more people, including children, are being treated for severe burns. Survivors say the fire started when fireworks hit the roof during the ceremonial slow dance.

It is a tragedy which has plunged the northern town into mourning with grieving families continuing funeral processions at the Saint Behnam Syriac Catholic Church on Thursday. The huge gathering followed a ceremony at The Cemetery of the Resurrection on Wednesday.

At a packed memorial service inside Al-Tahira Church on Wednesday, a priest told mourners: “Nothing is up to standard in this country.....we have to hold those who are responsible accountable. Enough, enough.”

The Civil Defence Directorate, speaking to Iraqi News Agency, said the banqueting hall was covered with highly flammable metal composite panels, which was in violation of safety regulations.

The directorate said: “The fire led to the collapse of parts of the hall as a result of the use of highly flammable, low-cost building materials that collapse within minutes when the fire breaks out.”

Crowds gather to remember those who died in the wedding hall fire

Officials have so far arrested 10 of the venue’s staff, its owner and three people involved with the fireworks, as they promise a quick investigation into what happened.

A government spokesperson said the authorities will also 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.

The events unfolded as, on Thursday, Iraq’s prime minsiter Mohammed Shia al-Sudani arrived in the region to meet with the wounded and family members of victims at Hamdaniyah Hospital and Al-Jumhoori Hospital. He also visited the Syriac Catholic Mar Behnam Monastery to express his condolences to victims.

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