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41 perish in Kuwait wedding blaze

world Updated: Aug 16, 2009 13:23 IST
AFP
stampede

Forty-one people, mainly women and children, were killed when a fire ripped through a packed wedding party in Kuwait, triggering a panicked stampede, officials said on Sunday.

"The number of dead has reached 41," Kuwaiti fire chief general Jassem Mansuri told the official KUNA news agency.

Health Minister Hilal al-Sayer reported that 76 people had been injured with various degrees of burns, some seriously, in the disaster.

The fire broke out late on Saturday in a large tent reserved for women at a wedding ceremony in Jahra, which lies to the west of the capital Kuwait City.

The officials hinted that the death toll might rise, with Mansuri talking of a "provisional toll" while Sayer said many of the injured had been admitted to intensive care units of various hospitals in the country.

"The remains of the dead, some of which have been charred beyond recognition, will be subjected to DNA examination for identification," he said according to the English-language Arab Times newspaper.

Mansuri said rescue teams were still sifting through the debris and charred items, searching for more possible casualties, KUNA reported.

Officials said the exact cause of the fire was not yet known and that an inquiry had been launched to determine what happened. Many of the victims had fallen during a stampede after the blaze broke out.

The victims included many women and children, who gathered in a separate tent from the men to celebrate the wedding.