Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Sunday, 16 August 2009 14:51 UK

Dozens die in Kuwait wedding fire


Aftermath of the blaze

Forty-one women and children have died after a fire broke out in a tent at a wedding near Kuwait City.

Guests were trampled in the stampede towards the only exit, as the tent was razed in just three minutes, a fire department chief told AP news agency.

Six of the dead were children. Up to 60 women and children were also injured in the tragedy on Saturday evening in the al-Jahra area, west of the capital.

The cause of the blaze is unknown. It is not clear if the bride escaped.

Wedding celebrations in the conservative Gulf state are held separately for men and women. Children attend the women's party.

Aftermath of fire at a wedding tent in Kuwait City on 16 August 2009
It was a horrific scene with bodies and shoes stuck to the ground at the only exit
Jassem al-Mansouri
Fire chief

Four teams of fire-fighters were dispatched to the scene, about 50km (30 miles) west of the capital, as well as a large number of ambulances.

Officials said the authorities had had difficulty evacuating the injured because of the large numbers of anxious relatives at the scene.

The country's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, extended his condolences to the families of the victims.

Fire department chief Brig Gen Jassem al-Mansouri told AP news agency the authorities would have to carry out DNA tests to identify the victims.

"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," he said.

Interior ministry spokesman Col Mohammed al-Saber confirmed to Reuters news agency that the tent, which could seat more than 200 people, had only one exit.

Investigators are trying to establish what sparked the blaze, with faulty electrical wiring, or coals used for burning incense, among possible causes, according to reports.

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