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Middle East
Scores die in Kuwait wedding fire
Blaze at ceremony kills 41 women and children and injures more than 70 others.
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2009 15:30 GMT

At least 41 people, all women and children, have died after a fire broke out in a tent being used at a wedding in Kuwait City.

More than 70 other people were injured in the blaze late on Saturday night in Jahra, west of the Kuwaiti capital.

Brigadier-General Jassem al-Mansouri, the fire department chief, said 58 of the injured were still in hospital on Sunday, and seven were in a serious condition with severe burns.

"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.

The authorities were running DNA tests to identify the 35 women and six children killed in the fire, which left many victims unrecognisable.

Relatives and onlookers had crowded the area around the blazing tent, which had been engulfed in less than two minutes.

No emergeny exit

Saad al-Anezi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kuwait, said the fire was the country's biggest disaster in 40 years.

"The tent, in an enclosed surrounding, did not have any emergency exit and it was made from a very flammable material - cotton," he said.

Fire officials told Al Jazeera that the tent, which could have housed up to 180 people, had probably not been constructed to correct safety standards.

The authorities were investigating the cause of the blaze and al-Mansouri said it could have been faulty electrical wiring, a problem with the equipment used to keep the wedding food buffet warm or the coals used for burning incense.

Kuwait banned the use of wedding tents on Sunday.

Wedding celebrations in Kuwait are held separately for men and women, with children attending the women's party.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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