23 women, children dead in a fire at Saudi wedding

#822300: Saudi Arabia map, partial graphic AP Graphics

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Saudi media reports say a blaze that erupted inside a tent at a wedding in the country's east has killed at least 23 women and children.

The media cite civil defense officials as saying that celebratory gunfire, common at weddings, brought down a power line that touched off the fire late Tuesday in the Eastern Province.

Last month, Saudi Arabia banned the shooting of firearms at weddings, a popular tradition in tribal areas of the country, Al Jazeera reports. In 1999, 76 people died in a similar incident in the Eastern Province of the country.

The official Saudi Press Agency said Wednesday that a special government committee will conduct an investigation into the incident. The probe will be by the provincial governor.

Saudi Arabia's ultraconservative codes require genders to be separated at most public events, including weddings.

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