Middle East

Iraq hotel fire kills 30 people

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Media captionThe BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse on what is known about the incident at the Soma hotel

A fire in a hotel in northern Iraq has killed 30 people, including 14 foreigners, hospital officials say.

At least 40 people were wounded as the fire spread through the Soma Hotel in Suleimaniya during the night.

Some died jumping from their windows to escape the flames, which broke out late on Thursday, witnesses said.

City officials said it was likely that the fire was started by an electrical fault, with no indication that it was a result of a terror attack.

It was seven hours before the blaze was brought under control, officials told reporters.

"I saw three people jump from their floor to escape the fire, but they were killed when they hit the ground," Kameran Ahmed, who owns an electrical supply shop next to the hotel, told reporters.

Firefighters injured

At least four women and four children were killed, the Associated Press news agency quoted local chief of police Brig Gen Najim al-Din Qadir as saying.

"The number killed is 30, among whom there are 14 foreigners," Rikot Hama Rasheed, the Suleimaniya hospital director told AFP news agency.

"The regional government will contact the embassies of the foreigners who were killed," he said.

Mirwan Saeed broke both his legs after jumping from the roof to save his life.

"We were in the hotel when the smoke started coming in," he was quoted by AFP as saying. "I had no choice but to jump."

Some of the firefighters battling the fire were also injured by smoke inhalation.

Apart from local Iraqis, victims are said to include nationals of Australia, the UK, Canada, Venezuela, Lebanon, South Africa, and Bangladesh

Four engineers from telecoms operator Asiacell died in the blaze - a woman from the Philippines, and three men from Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Iraq, Asiacell chairman Faruk Mula Mustafa said.

Suleimaniya, 160 miles (260 km) north-east of Baghdad, is a commercial hub of northern Iraq's Kurdish autonomous area, a major site for oil exploration.

Some of the dead worked for international oil companies working in the region.

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