Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Celebratory gunfire at a wedding party in eastern Saudi Arabia brought down an electric cable, killing 23 people on Tuesday night, a local civil defense official stated.
According to NBC News, Eastern Province official Abdullah Khashman said by phone, “At the wedding, the cable fell on a metal door and the 23 people who died were all electrocuted.”
However, the al-Jazeera news organization cited local media reports saying that some of the people died as a result of a fire caused by the downed cable. The local reports said that both women and children died in the terrible accident.
According to AFP, the bullets struck electric decorations that triggering a short-circuit and igniting a women-only marquee at the wedding on Tuesday, said Al-Yaoum newspaper. Only women and small children were in the tent because of strict rules of segregation in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom.
A photograph of the aftermath that was published on local newspapers’ websites showed a large courtyard strewn with fallen chairs and a pole in the middle supporting cables carrying light bulbs.
Khashman said that everyone that was killed was from the same tribe. Thirty others were injured in the accident near Abqaiq, which is a center of the Saudi energy industry.
Last month, Saudi Arabia banned the shooting of firearms at weddings, which is a popular tradition in tribal areas of the conservative Islamic kingdom.
Eastern Province governor Prince Mohammed bin Fahd has ordered an investigation into the incident, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
In July 1999, 76 people died in a similar incident in Eastern Province.