AT least 100 people have been killed after a horror inferno ripped through a wedding ceremony in Iraq.
The bride and groom are among those feared dead after a raging blaze erupted when fireworks appeared to be set off moments before the newly wed couple’s first dance.
Shocking footage shows burning debris dropping from the ceiling of the hall as the pair took to the dance floor at around 10.45pm local time (8.45pm UK time) on Tuesday.
A further clip shows appeared to show fireworks shooting up from the floor and setting a chandelier alight.
Witnesses said the entire venue was totally engulfed in flames “in seconds” as panicked guests attempted to flee.
Up to 900 men, women and children rushed towards the exit, with many left trapped inside as thick, black smoke filled the venue.
Rania Waad, 17, told AFP: “We couldn’t see anything. We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.”
It is unclear whether the bride, Haneen, and groom, Revan, survived the inferno.
Authorities in the Hamdaniya area of Iraq‘s Nineveh province said up to 114 have been confirmed dead so far.
But it is feared the death toll could rise as a further 150 people were left injured, many severely.
Some of those burned included children, and the sound of ambulance sirens filled the air for hours after the fire broke out.
Survivors arrived at local hospitals in bandages, receiving oxygen, as their families milled through hallways and outside as workers organised more oxygen cylinders.
Preliminary evidence suggests fireworks tore through the Christian wedding and sparked the fire, said Iraqi civil defence authorities said.
In the aftermath of the blaze, only charred metal and debris could be seen as people walked through the scene of the fire.
Other footage shown on other local television networks appeared to show the bride and groom on the dance floor when the fire began Tuesday night, stunned by the sight of the burning debris.
One injured woman told Rudaw from a hospital gurney: “They were about to do a slow dance and then they lit up this thing for the dance which caught fire.”
Another man injured in the fire at the hospital similarly told Rudaw that the blaze started as the couple prepared for their slow dance.
“They lit up fireworks,” he said.
“It hit the ceiling, which caught fire. The entire hall was on fire in seconds.”
Ahmed Dubardani, a health official in the province, initially said the bride and groom were among those killed – but other reports say they survived.
He added that dozens of survivors suffered horror burns.
Dubardani said: “The majority of them were completely burned and some others had 50 to 60 per cent of their bodies burned.
“This is not good at all. The majority of them were not in good condition.”
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation into the fire.
Father Rudi Saffar Khoury, a priest at the wedding, said it was unclear who was to blame for the fire.
Civil defence officials quoted by the Iraqi News Agency described the wedding hall’s exterior as decorated with highly flammable cladding that is illegal in the country.
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 the fire breaks out, the authority said.