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Wedding inferno kills 47, injures 80

world Updated: Aug 16, 2009 20:25 IST
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At least 47 women and children died and about 80 were injured when a devastating fire, barely lasting three minutes, charred a tent at a wedding ceremony in Kuwait City.

The blaze which broke out yesterday in a tent reserved for women at a wedding ceremony in Jahra north of Kuwait City killed 41 women and three children, chief of the fire department told ‘Arab News´ today.

“The fire broke out at around 9.20 pm on Saturday in the tent allocated for women. Apart from the dead, 80 women are injured and have been rushed to hospital for treatment,” Major General Jassem al-Mansouri told the paper.

The rescue efforts were hampered as the burning tent collapsed on women and the power supply failed. Many were also killed in a stampede that ensued. About 20 fire trucks and dozens of firemen battled the blaze, while the injured were rushed to hospitals, Mansouri added in the report.

“The remains of the dead, some of which have been charred beyond recognition, will be subjected to DNA examination for identification.” Major Khalil Al-Amir, Manager Public Affairs at Kuwait Fire Department told the paper.

The pictures taken from the spot showed all equipments inside the tent, including chairs, tables, air conditioners were burnt while the interiors was full of black debris.

"It was a horrific scene with bodies and many shoes stuck to the ground at the only exit, they must have trampled over one another,“ al-Mansouri said adding that it was the worst fire scene he had seen in 40 years of his service.

Kuwait’s Interior Ministry today set up a hotline and a special Criminal Investigation centre for families to seek information about their kin.

The exact cause of the fire is not known although authorities say that there must be some problems with electrical wiring or the equipment used to keep the food warm or the coals used for burning incense, al-Mansouri said.

He said that in Kuwait wedding parties are held in tents which should be approved by the authorities but this particular event was organised without an official permission.

Usually there are separate parties in tents for both men and women which is followed by a buffet dinner with the children mostly attending the women parties.

There also no information about the bride or how many people were inside when the tragic incident took place. The tent was 12 metres long where 180 people could stay, al-Mansouri said.