Share via Email This article is over 8 years old Kuwaiti rescue workers and security officials gather around the bodies of victims after a fire ripped through a packed wedding party. They must have trampled over one another," said Brigadier General Jassem al-Mansouri. He said Kuwaiti authorities were running DNA tests to identify the 35 women and six children killed in the fire, which left many victims unrecognisable.
Fifty-eight injured people were still in hospital, seven in serious condition with severe burns. Authorities were investigating the cause and 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. He added that the fire, in al-Jahra, a tribal area west of the capital, was the worst he had seen in almost four decades of service in the state.
Photographs of the scene show the tent was erected in an urban area. The interior was strewn with blackened debris, including the metal frames of chairs and tables, and burnt-out air conditioners, a necessity in Kuwait, where night temperatures in the summer are often above 40C.
It was not clear whether the bride survived or how many were in the tent when it caught fire. Mansouri said the structure was 12 metres long and could have housed up to people. Wedding parties are held separately for women and men, with children attending the women's event.
The parties usually feature a buffet dinner as well as singing and dancing to Kuwaiti and Arabic music. No alcohol is served in conservative Kuwait. Events in tents should be licensed so that authorities approve the type of tent and ensure it has the necessary safety features, said the chief, adding that yesterday's event was not licensed. The upholstery and the stuffing of the chairs used was also highly flammable, said Mansouri.
The interior ministry called on Kuwaitis to stop erecting tents in the middle of crowded neighbourhoods and there has been talk of banning them altogether.
Tents are also used in election campaigns but by permit only. The government had opened a hotline and an information centre for relatives of the victims, Kuwaiti state television said. The country's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, extended condolences to the families of the victims, according to the Kuwait News Agency.
He also announced that in sympathy with the victims and their families he would not be receiving well wishers as he traditionally does for the advent of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which starts around 22 August.