At least 14 people died today in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region after a fire broke out in a building housing accommodation for students and professors of Soran University near the city of Erbil, local health authorities said.

Local Kurdish Rudaw TV broadcast images showing firefighters working in front of a building with a blackened facade in Soran, a small town located near the border with Turkey and Iran.

According to “initial information”, the fire was caused by an “electrical short circuit”, the television network explains on its website.

“A fire broke out in a building used to house students and professors of Soran University,” according to local health authorities, cited by state news agency INA.

“At least 14 people were killed and 18 injured,” said Kamaram Mullah Mohammed, head of Soran’s health directorate.

The fire, which broke out on the third and fourth floors of the building, was “under control”, according to the local civil protection service, cited by INA. The local Rudaw news agency reported that the fire was extinguished in the evening.

The prime minister of the autonomous region, Masour Barzani, called for an investigation to establish the causes of the tragedy.

Fires or fatal accidents occur frequently in Iraq, often due to non-compliance with safety rules, particularly in the construction and transportation sectors. Despite its vast hydrocarbon wealth, the country suffers from a crumbling infrastructure, damaged by decades of conflict and poor public management due to corruption.

In September, nearly a hundred people died in a fire that broke out during a wedding at a function hall in the northern Iraqi city of Karakos. In addition to the very few emergency exits, the authorities had denounced the use in the construction of the building of prefabricated panels that were “highly flammable and violated safety rules”.