Middle East

Electrical fire at Saudi wedding kills 25

Photograph posted online purportedly showing aftermath of fire at wedding in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia (31 October 2012) Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A women-only marquee is believed to have been set on fire

At least 25 people have died and 30 others were hurt in a fire at a wedding in eastern Saudi Arabia, officials say.

Hundreds were inside the courtyard of a home in the village of Ain Badr, in the Abqaiq region, when the blaze began.

A high-voltage power line reportedly fell down and sent sparks flying after it was hit by celebratory gunfire.

The power line is also believed to have touched a metal door at the only exit from the courtyard, causing the electrocution of many of the victims.

Most of those killed and injured are reported to have been women.

The local newspaper al-Youm cited Civil Defence chief Gen Abdullah Khsheiman as saying a women-only marquee was set on fire.

Women are separated from men at weddings in Saudi Arabia in line with the kingdom's strict rules on gender segregation.

A photograph of the aftermath posted online showed a large courtyard strewn with chairs and a pole in the middle supporting strings of lights.

Survivors have been taken to the Aramco and Central Abqaiq hospitals.

Civil Defence spokesman Col Mohammed al-Ajami said the governor of Eastern Province, Prince Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, had ordered the authorities to investigate the incident.

The Saudi authorities last month banned the shooting of firearms at weddings - a popular tradition in tribal areas of the kingdom - according to the Reuters news agency.

In July 1999, 76 people died in a similar incident in Eastern Province.

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