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August 18, 2009

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Official says fatal fire no accident

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 yesterday.

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 on Sunday, said Kuwaiti Fire Department chief, Brigadier General Jassem al-Manouri.

He said it was the worst disaster he has seen in almost four decades of service.

Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Mohammed al-Saber told the state-owned Kuwait television 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 yesterday 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.

Kuwaitis celebrate weddings in separate parties for men and women, with children attending the women's event, which features singing, dancing and food.


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