A massive fire broke out at a wedding party in Iraq’s southern city of Basra on Tuesday night, killing at least 100 people and injuring more than 150 others, according to local authorities.
The fire started around 9 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) at a banquet hall in the al-Maqal district, where hundreds of guests were celebrating the marriage of a young couple. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but some witnesses said it was sparked by an electrical short circuit.
The flames quickly spread to the nearby buildings, creating a huge inferno that engulfed the area. Many people were trapped inside the hall and suffocated by the smoke, while others tried to escape through the windows and doors.
The Iraqi civil defense forces and firefighters rushed to the scene and battled the blaze for several hours. They managed to rescue some survivors and recover some bodies, but many others were still missing or buried under the rubble.
The fire was one of the deadliest in Iraq’s recent history and shocked the nation. Many people expressed their grief and anger on social media, calling for justice and better safety measures. Some also blamed the government for its negligence and corruption.
The Basra governorate announced three days of mourning for the victims and cancelled all official celebrations for the upcoming Islamic New Year. The Iraqi President Barham Salih and other political and religious leaders also sent their messages of sympathy and solidarity to the people of Basra.