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Sat 17 Jul 2010 08:43 AM

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Dubai firm's workers in Iraqi hotel fire that kills 28

A fire engulfed a five-storey hotel in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah.

Dubai firm's workers in Iraqi hotel fire that kills 28
IRAQI CITY: Sulaimaniyah, 270 kilometers (170 miles) from Baghdad, is the second-largest city in the oil-rich semi-autonomous region.(Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

A fire engulfed a hotel in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah, killing 28 people, half of them foreigners, and injuring 22, the Kurdistan Regional Government said, according to a report by newswire Bloomberg.

The UAE-based The National daily reported that a representative of the Dubai-based company Terraseis confirmed some of its workers had been staying at the hotel.

The employee, reached by phone on Friday night, declined to say how many workers were involved, where they were from or comment on their condition, the daily added.

According to The National, Terraseis was established a decade ago to help oil companies gather geophysical information.

The fire broke out at the five-storey Soma Hotel yesterday at 10:30pm after an electrical short circuit. Sulaimaniyah, 270 kilometers (170 miles) from Baghdad, is the second-largest city in the oil-rich semi-autonomous region, Bloomberg said.

The 14 foreigners who died were from Canada, Australia, South Africa, the UK, Ecuador, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Bangladesh and Cambodia, the KRG said. One victim has yet to be identified, it added.

Regional Prime Minister Barham Salih said his administration is working with the embassies and consulates of the countries concerned to inform the next of kin and facilitate repatriation of the bodies.

According to Bloomberg, Salih ordered an immediate review of fire-safety measures at all public buildings in Sulaimaniyah and the rest of the region.

News agencies including the Associated Press cited witnesses as saying some people jumped out of the hotel’s windows to escape the blaze because there were no fire escapes, the newswire added.

“We will spare no effort in making sure such tragedies do not occur in the future,” said Salih, who visited the scene and the hospital where the injured were being treated. “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.”

Some of the dead worked for the Asiacell mobile phone company, AP reported.

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