Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kuwaiti wedding inferno kills 41

Thirty-five women and six children died in just three minutes as fire tore through a wedding tent outside Kuwait City on Saturday night.

In addition to those who died, 58 other people were wounded and remained in hospitals, seven of them in 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," Kuwaiti Brig.-Gen. Jassem al-Mansouri told reporters.

It was not known whether the bride survived.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, he said. The inferno could have been caused by faulty electrical wiring, a problem with the equipment used to warm the food buffet or the coals used for burning incense, al-Mansouri said.

Kuwaitis hold separate wedding parties for men and women. While men gather for dinner, women and children sing and dance, and women also shed their head coverings.

Al-Mansouri expected at least temporary restrictions on having wedding parties in tents.

"There will certainly be a decision to ban the use of tents without written permission," he said.

The fire left behind blackened mounds of chairs and tables burned down to their metal frames, as well as food trays and charred air conditioners.

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