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KUWAIT: Groom's 'scorned' ex-wife suspected in deadly wedding blaze

August 17, 2009 |  2:30 am


At least 43 women and children died Saturday night when a fire broke out in a women's wedding tent, and now several local newspapers are reporting that the 23-year-old ex-wife of the groom may have started the fire in an act of revenge against her former husband and his new bride.

The headline of the Kuwait Times today read, "'Scorned' Woman Unleashed Fury." The accompanying article said authorities had arrested the suspect after her maids claimed to have seen her setting fire to the tent with kerosene.

Most weddings in Kuwait are separated into men's and women's parties that feature music, dancing and dinner. Several of the victims are thought to be young children accompanying their mothers.

Authorities said the tent, made of highly combustible materials, reached extreme temperatures in just  minutes. Identification of bodies reportedly has been difficult.

"It was a horrific scene with bodies and many shoes stuck to the ground at the only exit. They must have trampled over one another," fire department Gen. Jassem Mansouri told the Kuwait Times, adding that the tragedy probably will lead to a decision to ban the use of tents without written permission.

The death toll may rise as some of the 90 other seriously wounded succumb to their injuries.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Kuwaiti men pray over the remains of some of the 41 women and children who died in a fire in a wedding tent Saturday, before burying them at Sulaybikhat Cemetery in Kuwait. The fire consumed the structure in a blazing inferno lasting just three minutes, the fire department chief said Sunday. Credit: Nasser Wajeeh/AP