SULAIMANIYAH,(AFP) – Twenty-nine people, including children, women and foreigners, were killed in a late night fire at a hotel in northern Iraq’s Sulaimaniyah city, health and government officials said Friday.
“We have received 29 bodies and 22 people are injured,” said Rikot Hama Rasheed, the director of Sulaimaniyah hospital, following the blaze.
Witnesses told an AFP correspondent in Sulaimaniyah that at least three of the victims died when they jumped from the windows of the Soma Hotel to avoid flames, after the fire broke out at around 10:30 pm (1930 GMT) on Thursday.
A city council official confirmed the death toll and said initial investigations indicated that the blaze, which took seven hours to be brought under control, had been caused by an electrical fault.
“Women and children are among the victims of the incident which happened in the Soma Hotel in the centre of the city,” said the official, Razgar Ahmed.
Sulaimaniyah, 270 kilometres (170 miles) north of Baghdad, is capital of one of the three provinces that make up Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in the north of the country.
The region is popular with tourists and business has flourished in recent years as it is peaceful, unlike much of Iraq which remains wracked by violence seven years after the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.