World News

Christian town in mourning after fire kills 177 wedding guests


A massive fire broke out at Al Haitham Hall, on the outskirts of Qaraqosh, in the Nineveh Plains, at the wedding reception of a Syriac Catholic couple on Tuesday evening. The Christian town has been recovering since the troubles with ISIS. Terrorists expelled Christians from most towns in Iraq.

According to initial reports the ceiling caught alight when fireworks were let off inside the hall. Parts of the ceiling collapsed with the fire spreading rapidly and trapping the guests. 177 people died in the fire and more than 150 were injured. The bride and groom survived the tragedy, but they said the disaster made them “feel dead inside”. They tried to escape the hall, which had only a few exits for hundreds of people. Sadly, many of the guests were trapped inside and burned alive.

Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Benedictus Younan Hanno said: “Either everyone responsible for the fire will be held accountable, or we will go on strike. If we strike, it won’t be only in our areas, it will be all over Iraq”.

Archbishop Bashar Warda presented a statement: “Words cannot adequately describe the pain of those bringing their loved ones to their final resting places in their ancient land. What was to be a time of joy has now turned into a whole community in mourning and deep shock. Patriarchs, bishops, and priests from all confessions gathered today in Qaraqosh to bury those who had perished. The Sunnis have cancelled their celebrations of the birth of their prophet Mohammed, and we have statements of condolences and support from the Shi‘a community as well. The Governments of Iraq and Kurdistan also announced three days of mourning. I ask for your prayers for those souls we have lost and the severely injured. I ask you to pray for the Syriac community and their families within Iraq and the diaspora.”

Many Christians decided to return home since areas such as Hamdaniya were liberated from ISIS in 2016. Churches have been restored with weddings being an important example of normal life being reinstated. 


Leave a reply