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Monday, August 17, 2009

Kuwait Tragedy: Forty-One Dead

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 16: Forty-one women and children were killed and dozens more injured when a fire ripped through a packed wedding party in Kuwait, triggering a panicked stampede, officials said on Sunday.

Dozens of fire-fighters battled to douse the flames which engulfed a large tent reserved for women during the wedding celebrations late on Saturday.

“The total number of deaths reached 41. There were six children among them,” Kuwaiti fire chief General Jassem al-Mansuri told AFP. Gen Mansuri said an additional 57 women and children were injured, seven critically, hinting that the death toll could rise further from the disaster in the town of Jahra west of Kuwait City.

“The tent was burnt down within minutes and only the steel structures remained intact,” he said, adding that there were between 150 and 180 women and children inside at the time.

Health Minister Hilal al-Sayer had earlier told the official KUNA news agency that 76 people with various degrees of burns had been taken to several hospitals in Kuwait, including to intensive care and specialised burn units.

A medical source said that more than 80 people were injured in the fire as relatives of some victims took them to private hospitals. Many of the victims had fallen during a stampede as the flames spread through the tent, which was left a smouldering wreck.—AFP

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