Eyewitnesses at the site said the building caught fire at around 10:45 p.m. local time [07:45PM GMT] and that hundreds of people were in attendance at the time of the incident.
At least 100 people were killed and more than 150 wounded when fire broke out at a wedding celebration in the district of Hamdaniya in Iraq’s Nineveh province in the early hours of Wednesday.
Ministry of Health spokesman Saif al Badr said health officials “recorded 100 deaths and more than 150 injuries as a preliminary toll as a result of the wedding hall fire incident in Al Hamdaniya.”
Saif told the Iraqi News Agency [INA] that “all efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident.”
Nineveh Deputy Governor Hasan al-Allaq told the Reuters news agency that 113 people had been confirmed dead.
Najim al-Jubouri, the provincial governor of Nineveh, said some of the injured had been transferred to regional hospitals.
He cautioned that there were no final casualty figures yet from the blaze, which suggests the death toll may still rise.
Television footage showed charred debris inside the wedding hall as a man shouted at firefighters.
In a brief statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani called on the ministers of health and the interior to “mobilise all rescue efforts” to help the victims of the fire.
Civil defence authorities reported the presence of prefabricated panels that were “highly flammable and contravened safety standards” inside the event hall where the blaze took place.
“The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials,” they said in a statement.
“Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding, which triggered a fire in the hall,” the statement added.
Writing by Abdullahi Lamino