Doha mall fire: Five arrests reported

By AFP, Herald Online staff, APNZ

The Weekes triplets were among the 13 children killed in the fire in Villaggio Mall, Doha. Photo / Supplied
The Weekes triplets were among the 13 children killed in the fire in Villaggio Mall, Doha. Photo / Supplied

Media in Qatar are reporting the country's attorney general has ordered the arrest of five people associated with yesterday's fire which killed 19 - including Kiwi triplets.

Lillie Rhona, Jackson James and Willsher John Weekes, who turned 2 in March, were among the 13 children killed in the fire in the Villaggio Mall in Doha.

Their bodies were recovered after they died of smoke inhalation. At least six adults also died in the blaze.

QNA news reports attorney general Dr. Ali Bin Al-Marri Fetais has ordered that the mall's owner, manager, assistant manager, assistant director of security and the owner of the Gympanzee creche be detained as part of the investigation.

Gympanzee's owner is Iman Al Kuwari, whose father is Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, Qatar's Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage.

When asked by Doha News about her today, he said she is "the saddest person on earth."

Vigils were held throughout Qatar overnight for the 19 victims, including the Weekes triplets, killed in a shopping mall fire.

The toddlers started attending the mall's daycare centre only two or three months ago.

1,500 gathered for a vigil at Aspire Park in Doha, near to the mall, to remember the victims of the tragedy.

The Weekes were supported by other expat Kiwis, who performed a haka for the grieving couple. The vigil was one of three in the city.

Investigators in Qatar carried out their first extensive probes through the fire-ravaged daycare center and other charred areas inside the Villagio.

The blaze and equipment failures that hampered firefighting raised questions about safety measures in the megastructures across the wealthy Gulf.

The findings from the state-ordered inquest are expected within a week, the official Qatar News Agency said.

Commentators quickly called for extensive safety reviews after the sprinkler system malfunctioned during the fire.

"What happened is similar to murder because of the lack of safety measures in such complexes,'' said wrote Saleh al-Kuwari, editor of the Al Raya newspaper in Doha.

An editorial in the newspaper Al Arab urged officials around the Gulf to consider creating special firefighting and civil defense units for the energy-rich region's huge malls. The Villaggio includes an ice skating rink, theme park, movie theater and indoor Venice-style gondola rides.

"Safety requirements must be stressed,'' said the editorial. "They also need regular review.''

- NZ Herald

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