North Iraq hotel fire kills 29, half foreign: Police

A fire at a hotel in northern Iraq killed 29 people, including foreigners.

Baghdad: A fire in a five-story hotel in
northern Iraq killed 29 people, nearly half of whom were
foreigners, in a harrowing blaze that forced several victims
to jump to their deaths to escape the flames, officials and
witnesses said on Friday.

The fire in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah began
late yesterday night in the Soma Hotel and was sparked by an
electrical short, said chief of police Brig. Gen. Najim-al-Din
Qadir. Four women and four children were among the dead, he

At least 14 of the victims were foreigners, Qadir
said, many of whom had flocked for work and investment
opportunities to Iraq`s Kurdish oil-rich north, a region where
the thriving economy contrasts sharply with other parts of a
country ravaged by sectarian violence unleashed by the 2003
US-led invasion.

Witnesses described a terrifying scene of panicked
guests frantically trying to escape the burning building which
officials said lacked fire escapes.

"I saw three people jump from their floor to escape
the fire, but they were killed when they hit the ground," said
Kameran Ahmed, who owns an electrical supply shop next to the

Firefighters could be seen working throughout the
night to put out the fire in what was once a gleaming, modern
building of mirrored-glass windows. The next morning, smoke
darkened much of the building`s facade, and many of the
windows were smashed and broken.