Kuwait: Death toll in wedding blaze reaches 43

Interior Ministry spokesman: Perpetrator identified and confessed to committing crime for personal reasons.

kuwait wedding blaze fire 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
kuwait wedding blaze fire 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The blaze that consumed a wedding tent in Kuwait and claimed 43 lives was a criminal act by a perpetrator motivated by personal reasons, a Kuwaiti spokesman said Monday. The Saturday night incident in the tribal area of al-Jahra, west of Kuwait City, has shocked this small oil-rich nation. The inferno ate up the women's tent within just three minutes and left behind bodies so charred they were unrecognizable. Guests likely crushed one another in a desperate attempt to flee. The toll climbed to 43 women and children after two of the victims who were hospitalized with severe burns died Sunday, said Kuwaiti Fire Department chief, Brig. Gen. Jassem al-Manouri. He said it was the worst disaster he has seen in almost four decades of service. Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Mohammed al-Saber told the state-owned Kuwait television Monday that the perpetrator behind the blaze has been identified and has confessed to committing the crime for personal reasons. Al-Saber didn't elaborate. Fifty-two other injured in the blaze remained in hospital, the health minister, Hilal al-Sayer, told the TV. It was still unclear if the bride had survived. Kuwaiti newspapers on Monday speculated on the cause of the fire, with all dailies alleging arson and claiming the groom's former wife was implicated. Al-Saber's statement made no reference to the ex-wife and he wasn't answering telephone call for further queries Monday. Al-Mansouri and the Interior Ministry declined to comment the reports pending the investigation. Authorities have promised to publicize the full results of the probe. Kuwaitis celebrate weddings in separate parties for men and women, with children attending the women's event which features singing and dancing and a dinner buffet. In tribal regions, some hold these parties in tents, a custom rooted in Kuwait's nomadic heritage. In wealthier urban areas, such parties take place in five-star hotels or special halls. Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said that out of sympathy for the victims he will not be receiving the customary well wishers for the advent of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts later this week.