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Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 15:53 UK

Ex-wife blamed for Kuwait inferno

Mournes at funeral of wedding fire victims
Funerals have been held for victims whose remains were identifiable

Kuwaiti police investigating a deadly blaze at a wedding tent that killed 43 women and children say the ex-wife of the groom has confessed to starting it.

The tent was consumed by flames in seconds in the worst civilian disaster in Kuwait's modern history.

Fire service officials said the tent had only one exit and did not meet fire safety regulations.

Media reports say the woman told police she had wanted to avenge ill-treatment by her husband before their divorce.

Later the Ministry of the Interior, quoted by the official news agency Kuna, announced that one person had been arrested on suspicion of causing Saturday's fire, but no further details were given.

Bride escaped

Earlier on Monday the Qabas newspaper said the 23-year-old ex-wife of the groom had told police she used petrol to set fire to the packed and highly inflammable wedding tent.

Map

The victims were all women and children because traditionally wedding celebrations are segregated along gender lines.

The Kuwait Times newspaper reported that the groom's new bride had escaped injury but that her mother and a sister had died.

Some local newspapers have criticised the government over the blaze, which happened in the town of Jahra, saying its handling revealed failures in disaster response planning.

MPs criticised the lax official reaction to unlicensed tents being erected in residential areas despite the implicit safety risks.

Most of the bodies were burned beyond immediate recognition, police said, and forensic officials were now working to identify the victims.

Ninety guests were injured in the blaze and ensuing stampede, and five burns victims are in a critical condition, medical officials say.



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