Silence over inquiry into killer Qatari fire

By Hana Garrett-Walker

Triplets (from left) Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes died in the disaster. Photo / Supplied
Triplets (from left) Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes died in the disaster. Photo / Supplied

Safety has been boosted at a Qatari mall where New Zealand triplets died in a fire, but their parents still know nothing about a probe into the blaze.

"It's devastating, when you're trying to rebuild your lives and you're trying to reach ... acceptance and closure, to not have any information, to not understand what the cause of the fire was, to not understand how the children actually died, [and] what went wrong ..." said Martin Weekes, formerly of Wellington.

Two-year-old triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes were killed when a fire ripped through the Villaggio mall in Doha while they were at the Gympanzee daycare on May 28.

Nineteen people, including 13 children, died in the blaze.

A report on the cause of the fire has reportedly been released and various recommendations made, but the families of those killed say they have not seen it.

Three parties have been charged in relation to the fire - the mall's owner, Doha municipality and Gympanzee - but none of them showed up when due in court this month.

On Friday, part of the mall reopened to the public, prompting the parents of the 13 children to write a collective letter hitting out at the owners and management, who they said should be "ashamed", and Mr Weekes to speak out for the first time since the disaster.

"It's just like, 'Let's forget it ever happened', and I think that's another tragedy waiting to happen," Mr Weekes said.

"We will never get our children back ... but we don't want to see any other parent, any other sister, any other brother be put in that situation. Something significant went wrong when at 11 o'clock on a Tuesday, 19 people died in the biggest, most modern mall in the country. How can that happen?"

Doha News reported there was a large security presence within the mall when its doors reopened. Security had been doubled or tripled at every entrance and exit. Management officials were noticeable around the mall.

Posted in every shop window were notices listing safety rules and the site of fire extinguishers.

- APNZ

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