At least 29 people have died in a hotel fire at Suleimaniya in the Kurdish autonomous area of northern Iraq. Among the dead are four children, and a number of foreign oil engineers. Some perished trying to jump from their windows to safety.
It was seven hours before the blaze could be brought under control. Officials say it was caused by an electrical fault, and that there was no indication that it was started deliberately.
Perhaps the worst hotel fire in history was the one that devastated the 15-storey Winecoff in Atlanta, USA on December 7, 1946. Built in 1913, the building had 150 rooms, and was claimed to be “absolutely fireproof”, but it had no fire escape, no fire doors and no sprinklers.
About 160 guests escaped – some through jumping from their windows. Others using this desperate escape method died, and the total death toll was 119. The official reason for the blaze was that a cigarette set fire to a mattress, but some still claim it was arson.