Ex-wife confesses her role behind Kuwaiti fire tragedy

 
The woman, who is the ex-wife of the bridegroom, was arrested after some maids claimed that they saw her setting the tent on fire with some kerosene-soaked rags, Kuwaiti News reported today.

The 23-year-old suspect was reportedly taking revenge on her former husband for the ill-treatment he melted out to her during their marriage.

Meanwhile, the bride escaped unhurt but her mother and sister were killed in the devastating blaze which also claimed the lives of 43 women and three children in just three minutes while injuring 90 others, the newspaper said.

The fire broke out on Saturday in a tent reserved for women at a wedding ceremony in Jahra north of Kuwait City.

Some of the victims received critical burn injuries and were in a serious condition while some of the dead who have been charred beyond recognition, will be identified only after the DNA test, chief of the fire department Major General Jassem al-Mansouri said.

"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," al-Mansouri said adding that it was the worst accident he had seen in 40 years of his service.

He also estimated there were about 150 and 180 women and children inside the tent at that time.

Director of Jahra hospital Abdulaziz Al-Farhoud told the newspaper that 90 people have been wounded with some in critical condition with severe burns and 21 of them have been sent to Babtain Burns Center for advanced treatment.

The fire left behind blackened debris of chairs and tables burnt down to their metal frames, as well as food trays and charred air conditioners. About 20 fire trucks and dozens of firemen battled the blaze.

In Kuwait, separate wedding parties are organised for men and women. Men gather for dinner, while women and children sing and dance. At the end of the celebration, the groom comes to the women's party to collect his bride. No alcohol is served, as it is forbidden in Islam.

However, official permission is required before holding such events but al-Mansouri said that this particular function was organised without approval from the authorities.

"There will certainly be a decision to ban the use of tents without written permission.

That would ensure that authorities are aware of events and able to check tents for safety features," al-Mansouri said.

Some observers described the fire as the worst tragedy in Kuwait's modern history.

Meanwhile, the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, yesterday expressed his solidarity to the families of the victims.

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