'Who will help us?': Anger among Iraq wedding fire mourners at mass funeral

People still searching for loved ones after blaze ripped through party on Tuesday

Powered by automated translation

"They didn’t burn or turn into ashes — they couldn't breathe," said one mourner at a mass funeral to remember those killed in a devastating fire in Iraq that ripped through a large Christian wedding party in Iraq late on Tuesday.

Hundreds took to the streets of Iraq’s Nineveh province on Thursday to remember more than 100 people killed in the devastating blaze, which erupted at a wedding party in Al Haitham Hall in northern Iraq.

“They died of suffocation," Marious Addision told The National through tears.

“We don’t want anything from the government. We don’t know how or where to begin to get our justice.”

Authorities said the guests, who numbered over 1,000, sustained injuries caused either by flames, smoke or the crush as people tried to flee the reception hall beneath a partially collapsed ceiling.

During the past two days, people have searched for loved ones, while others rushed to donate blood in overwhelmed hospitals.

"I lost my nephew and sister-in-law today," Hana Abosh Khadir, a teacher in Qaraqosh told The National. "We are waiting to hear about the fate of three others. We have sent their DNA to Baghdad for tests, so now it's a matter of time before we know."

The fire ripped through a large event hall estimated to hold up to 1,200 people, in Qaraqosh town, after sparklers were lit during the celebration and set fire to the ceiling, authorities.

The Thursday morning burial is the second one held since the tragic incident took place.

Nina Issam, 20, who attended the wedding, was at Thursday's funeral. Her aunt was among those buried.

"We speak and no one hears us, where is the government? If we had good governance this would have never happened," said Ms Issam, a residence of Qaraqosh.

"A dozen of us, including my little girl, managed to escape from the kitchen," she said adding that her aunt was found dead last night.

Citizens neglected

Salam Amer lost three members of his family, who were buried on Wednesday night.

"I buried them with my own two hands," he said.

He said his two-year-old son is still missing.

"I have been looking everywhere for him in all the hospitals. I just want to know if he's dead or alive," Mr Amer said.

He said authorities have neglected its citizens.

Nine people arrested in Iraq after fire at wedding venue kills 100

Nine people arrested in Iraq after fire at wedding venue kills 100

"There is negligence by the government, the hall was not fully equipped for fires or any disasters," he said. "They don't have any fire exits.

"I want to find my son — who can help me with this? The government? We only see them during elections. We have been burnt to the ground."

Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Mar Benedict Younan Hanno called for all Iraqis to unite.

"We as Christians, are always wanting the best for everyone, we saw a lot of unity coming out of this tragic event," Mar Hanno told The National.

Everyone must put "aside their religious and ethnics background", he said.

"This is what we saw from our pain, we have hope in our country."

"We need time to heal but we will persevere, we are all in this together and we will face the hardship together as one country."

He said the country must come together to reunite, rebuild and develop and Iraq "is suffering and it needs to heal".

Updated: September 28, 2023, 6:24 PM