Doha fire: Family faces Christmas without triplets

By Abby Gillies

The last picture of the Weekes triplets shows Winkie (left), Jackson and Lillie at the daycare in the Doha mall hours before the deadly inferno. Photo / Supplied
The last picture of the Weekes triplets shows Winkie (left), Jackson and Lillie at the daycare in the Doha mall hours before the deadly inferno. Photo / Supplied

The parents of 2-year-old triplets who died in a Doha mall fire will be surrounded by family as they face their first Christmas without their "three little monkeys".

New Zealand triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes were among 13 children who died in the fire at the Villaggio Mall in May.

Their father, Martin Weekes, said Christmas would be spent in New Zealand with the support of his older children and other family.

"It couldn't be a bigger change from last year when we were in a very, very busy household with three very excited little monkeys running around wondering what was going on under a tree," Mr Weekes told Newstalk ZB.

"It's great to have our family here to support us but it's a very, very quiet and surreal experience in comparison."

A trial in a Qatari court to decide responsibility for the fatal May fire heard this week there were failures in the mall sprinkler system, which could have stopped the heavy smoke that claimed the lives of the 13 children and six others.

Mr Weekes described details that had emerged about the mall as "just appalling".

"Everything looks shiny and new [but] what is coming out is underneath ... it's just a facade," he told Newstalk ZB.

The court heard sprinklers that should have stopped the smoke "didn't appear to be functioning" and mall officials had not responded to requests from the fire alarm and sprinkler system companies to perform "much-needed maintenance on the mall equipment", Doha News reported.

The court heard evidence that mall officials had been repeatedly fined for using highly flammable paint, which caused the fire "to spread quickly".

Mr Weekes said those responsible for the "complete systemic failure" needed to be held accountable.

The trial resumes on January 3.

- APNZ

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