Kuwait Tent Fire - Ex-wife ‘admits to torching wedding tent’


Kuwait Tent Fire - Ex-wife ‘admits to torching wedding tent’

Kuwait - AUG 17: The ex-wife of the groom at a Kuwait wedding party that turned into tragedy when a fierce fire engulfed a tent has confessed to starting the blaze, a local newspaper has reported.

Al-Qabas said the 23-year-old women had confessed to police that she used petrol to torch the packed wedding tent on fire to avenge her ex-husband’s “bad treatment” of her before their divorce.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the report.

A total of 43 women and children have now perished in the inferno which began on Saturday night in a tent reserved for women at the wedding party in Jahra, west of Kuwait City, the fire chief General Jassem al-Mansuri said.

Ninety other people were injured in the blaze, which destroyed the packed tent in just minutes in the deadliest civilian disaster in the modern history of the Gulf state.

Gen Mansuri said most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition and that forensic officials were working to identify the victims.

The Kuwait Times had said some of the victims were relatives of people who had perished in a similar incident in Jahra last year, when two women were killed and several others wounded.

Kuwaitis grieve those lost in tent fire

JAHRA, KUWAIT - AUG 17: Distraught neighours yesterday recounted the horrifying scenes that unfolded at a wedding party fire that killed 41 women and children on Saturday, as friends and family members of the 80 injured in the blaze gathered at the local hospital.

Little remains of the tent at the scene of the fire in the tribal area of Jahra, west of Kuwait City. Yesterday, officials sifted through piles of clothes, food, and cutlery scattered across the blackened ground where just a few hours before, scores of women and children from the Zafeeri family celebrated a wedding.

A spokesman for the ministry of interior yesterday said the careless placement of the tent near houses hindered rescue efforts and could be to blame for the tragedy, but fire officials said it was too early to establish the cause of the blaze.

A burnt-out lorry and piles of twisted metal chair frames were cordoned off by police as dozens of Kuwaitis passed through the area of the tragedy that has shocked Kuwait. Residents who live in the rows of houses that stand within a few metres of where the tent was erected – and which hampered rescue efforts – are still in disbelief that such a joyous occasion could have gone so horribly wrong.

“There were a couple of hundred women in the tent,” said Abdullah al Zafeeri, the horror of what happened etched in his face as he sat in the lounge of the house next door to the disaster. “I heard the women screaming. Some children died in the arms of their mothers.”

Mr al Zafeeri’s mother and sister are in hospital, and he doesn’t know if they will be all right. “The bride wasn’t here yet. She was getting prepared for the party with makeup and henna, and was due to arrive at 10pm.” The fire department said they received the first emergency calls about 8.45pm. The fate of the bride has not been officially confirmed.

Mr al Zafeeri’s cousin, Ibrahim al Enezi, said: “We saw many people die here, the bodies were piled up. We saw around 20 bodies outside the tent and the fire department was still collecting them from inside.”

Mohammed al Subaiy, an art student who lives in the neighbouring street, said: “I saw one old woman on her knees. Her legs were burnt but she held her hands up in the air and was praying. Men kept trying to get inside the tent, but the heat from the flames kept pushing them back. By the time the fire brigade got here, the tent had collapsed, and people were stuck inside.”

Khaled al Sarhed, the manager of Jahra fire station who led the rescue operation, said: “When they put people in the ambulances, there were so many people and cars around the scene that they struggled to get out. When the fire started, women and children fought to get to the tent’s exit and there was a huge crush. Many people died near the door when some people fell and others fought to get over the top of them.”


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Comment on this article

  • amanda, Kuwait-UK

    Mon, Aug 17 2009

    If proved guilty, the ex-wife of the groom should receive the severest punishment - the death penalty. How could any person deliberately set fire to a tent filled with women and children (or men for that matter). She is pure evil and does not deserve to live. I have lived in Kuwait as a British expat for 11 years. I am horrified and saddened by these horrible events.

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