At least 100 people have died and 150 others are injured after a fire broke out during a wedding in Iraq’s biggest Christian town.
Hundreds were celebrating in a banqueting hall in Qaraqosh in Nineveh province when it happened.
It is not known what started the fire but some reports suggest fireworks set it off.
Flammable panels fuelled the flames, causing parts of the ceiling to catch fire and fall, fire officials said.
“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 fire breaks out,” Iraq’s civil defence directorate said, quoted by state news agency INA.
It was not immediately clear if the bride and the groom were among the victims.
Footage posted online showed the couple on the dance floor before flaming chunks begin falling onto the dance floor.
Firefighters could be seen climbing over the wreckage of the building in search of survivors on Wednesday morning.
Eyewitnesses said hundreds of people had been in the venue when it caught fire at around 22:45 local time (19:45 GMT) on Tuesday.
“We saw the fire pulsating, coming out of the hall. Those who managed got out and those who didn’t got stuck. Even those who made their way out were broken,” Imad Yohana, a 34-year-old who escaped the inferno, told Reuters.
Another wedding guest, Rania Waad, who sustained a burn to her hand, said that as the bride and groom were slow dancing “fireworks started to climb to the ceiling, the whole hall went up in flames”.
“We couldn’t see anything,” the 17-year-old told news agency AFP. “We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.”