Doha fire: Initial report finds many faults

By Hana Garrett-Walker

Negligence by many parties led to a deadly fire at a Doha shopping mall, killing 19 people, including New Zealand triplets, an initial report has found.

A week-long investigation into the fire at the Villaggio shopping complex rounded up overnight (NZT), concluding there was negligence by the security team overseeing the complex in responding to the fire.

It also found there was no plan in place to deal with an emergency of that scale, including staff not been trained to cope with a fire, Aljazeera reported.

New Zealand triplets, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, who were two at the time of the fire, were all killed in the blaze while they attended the mall's nursery, Gympanzee.

The triplets were among 19 people who died in the fire on May 28.

Thirteen were children, four were teachers and the other two firefighters.

Martin and Jane Weekes, a former Wellington couple, returned to New Zealand from Qatar last week to bury their children.

The committee investigating the fire found that the child care centre was not licensed by the ministry of Social Affairs, as required by Qatari law, meaning it did not have the safety measures in place which were required for a nursery.

It concluded the fire started at the upper floor of a Nike sports store after faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light caused a spotlight to catch fire, the committee

The fire rapidly spread to the adjacent nursery.

A Nike store employee and a security guard then failed to extinguish the fire after they saw smoke rising from the upper level of the shop.

While civil defence workers arrived within three minutes of being alerted to the fire, it took them another 30 minutes to learn that children were trapped in the nursery.

As a result of the week-long investigation the committee made 11 recommendations to prevent or reduce the risk of a repeat fire.

It recommended reviewing regulations governing the activities of baby care facilities, which allowed nurseries to register under different names, such as activity centres.

The committee only investigated the cause of the blaze.

Five people, including the owners of the mall were arrested shortly after the fire.


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