At least 100 people have died and 150 others injured after a fire broke out at a wedding in northern Iraq.
Hundreds of people were celebrating in Al-Hamdaniya in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province when fire tore through the venue late on Tuesday evening.
It is not yet clear what caused the blaze, but early reports say it broke out after fireworks were lit.
It was not clear if the bride and the groom were among the dead or injured.
Initial reports in Iraqi media said they had died in the blaze, with news agency Nina later reporting that they were alive but were being treated for burns.
A photo posted by Nina showed dozens of firefighters battling the fire, and pictures from local journalists on social media show the charred-out remains of inside the event hall.
Flammable panels in the building may have helped the flames spread, causing parts of the ceiling to fall down, Iraq’s state news agency INA 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 fire breaks out,” Iraq’s civil defence directorate said.
Firefighters could be seen climbing over the wreckage of the building in search of survivors in the early hours of Wednesday morning, in video filmed at the site by a correspondent for Reuters.
Eyewitnesses said hundreds of people were there celebrating when the building caught fire at around 10:45 local time (19:45 GMT).
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno, told Reuters.
The deputy governor of Nineveh, Hassan al-Allaq, told Reuters that 113 people had been confirmed dead, while state news agency INA put the death toll at at least 100, with 150 people injured.
The injured have been transferred to hospitals across the Nineveh region, the region’s governor told INA.
But he suggested that the number of deaths and injuries was not fixed and may rise.
At the main hospital in Hamdaniya, which is east of the region’s capital Mosul, dozens of people arrived to donate blood to help the injured.
Iraq’s prime minister posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he had told officials to “mobilise all efforts to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate incident”.