| A woman wails beside the body of her child killed in the stampede. (AP)
Multan, Dec. 17 (AP): A fire broke out in a tent at a wedding party in eastern Pakistan, triggering a stampede and wall collapse that killed 27 women and children. The bride was among the dead.
More than 30 other people were injured when the wedding party turned into a tragedy late last night in Jhok Utra, a village about 120 km west of Multan, said area police officer Khadim Hussain Khadim.
A high-powered electric light apparently sparked the fire in the large canvas tent where more than 100 women and children, many singing wedding songs, were present, Khadim said.
He said 15 women and six children died of burns from the flaming and collapsing tent, from injuries caused by a stampede when people tried to escape, and from debris from a nearby newly built wall that toppled in the stampede.
The toll increased to 27 after one child and five women died of their injuries. Two women died of head injuries at a hospital in Dera Ghazi Khan and three others who lost their lives en route to a hospital in Multan.
Five women injured in the wedding fire were being treated at a hospital in Multan — two women who had head injuries lay unconscious in the neurology ward while two others were sleeping.
A fifth woman, who identified herself with a single name, Fatima, 32, was hit in the leg by debris and was caring for an aunt, Zarina Bibi, 55. Bibi lay unconscious with her head bandaged and a hospital doctor Zahid Shah said that they were waiting for CT scan results to know how seriously she had been hurt.
Fatima described how a sudden fire near the roof of the tent unleashed a stampede where dozens of women tried to squeeze through the tent’s door, tipped into a narrow street about three feet below the tent’s floor and then a wall came crushing down on top of them.
“We were sitting on one side talking with each other while some women were singing when there was fire in the upper part of the tent,” Fatima said. “We ran to save our lives. When we reached the door, some women fell down into the street and then the wall came down.”
The tent had been set up on the lawn at the home of the bride.
The bride who was in her 20s was among the dead, Khadim said. The groom was not hurt as he was sitting with male guests in a separate tent that was not damaged.