Iraq concluded today that Wednesday’s fire at a wedding hall in the northern governorate of Nineveh was “accidental”, caused by fireworks, and left 107 dead, and not 114 as initially announced, although it accused the owners of the party hall “negligence”.
These were the conclusions of an investigation committee created by the Iraqi Government to clarify the causes of the fire in the Al Haitham party hall, in the city of Al Hamdaniya, in Nineveh, where some 600 people from the Iraqi Christian community gathered to celebrate a wedding
At a press conference in Baghdad, members of the aforementioned committee attributed the increase in the number of victims to the “rapid collapse of the hall”, “the presence of a greater number” of guests, the “lack of multiple emergency doors” and the “existence of large quantities of alcohol” in the room.
“The unfortunate fire was accidental and not deliberate (…) there was negligence on the part of the owners of the hall,” said the advisor to the Iraqi Interior Minister, General Kazem Buhan.
He explained that “the fireworks used inside the hall generated very high thermal energy, while the decoration on the ceiling and floor was flammable and sensitive to heat,” and lamented that the “large amounts of alcohol helped” the extension of the fire.
Buhan blamed the fire on “those who used fireworks inside the hall,” and accused the owners of the wedding hall of “negligence,” since “they do not have safety equipment.”
Iraqi Interior Minister Abdelamir al Shamari said for his part that the committee has been able to review the surveillance cameras after arresting the owner of the salon who had taken them out and fled to the neighboring city of Erbil after the fire.
“The investigation committee recommended that the Hamdaniya victims be considered martyrs, as they belonged to a religious minority, and that the investigation with the accused and coordination with the judiciary and witnesses continue,” the minister added.
He also stressed that the committee recommended “dismissing and referring to justice” several officials in Nineveh for “negligence”, including the director of the municipality of Al Hamdaniya, and the directors of the Tourism and Electricity Classification Division and the fire department and of civil defense.