19 people die in hotel fire in Iraq’s Kurdistan region

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At least 19 people have been killed, most of them foreigners, after a fire broke out at a hotel in the city of Erbil, which is the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. Nearly a dozen more have been injured.

The fire broke out at about 4 p.m. local time on Friday at a spa and massage center which is located inside the Capitol Hotel. The fire generated thick black smoke that spread through parts of the building, causing a number of people to suffocate to death.

Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi told the Kurdish news agency Rudaw that at least 19 people had been killed in the fire, but some reports put the death toll as high as 21. Hadi identified those killed as 15 Filipino nationals, including 14 women, as well as 3 Iraqis and one Palestinian.

It was not immediately known what was the cause of the fire, and there were conflicting reports whether the fire started in the hotel’s basement or massage center. Ten firefighters who responded to the incident were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

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