EXCLUSIVES
FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

13 Children among 19 Killed in Qatar Fire

APQatar1

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Investigators in Qatar carried out their first extensive probes through a fire-ravaged daycare center and other charred areas inside the country's biggest mall Tuesday after a blaze that killed 19 people, including 13 children.

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. But commentators quickly called for extensive safety reviews after the sprinkler system malfunctioned during Monday's fire.

The tragedy also is likely to push authorities across the Gulf to further examine fire safety rules in a region where the drive to build fast and big has brought concerns about the level of emergency planning.

Rescue crews in Qatar's capital Doha had to hack through the roof of the mammoth Villaggio mall to reach the child care facility, where the victims included 2-year-old New Zealand triplets and three Spanish siblings. Two firefighters also were killed.

"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."

Qatar's Interior Ministry said the mall's sprinkler system malfunctioned, and rescue efforts were hampered by a lack of floor plans. Other Gulf nations also have confronted concerns about whether public safety planning can keep pace with the rapid construction.

In November, firefighters in Sharjah, north of Dubai, struggled to battle a blaze in a 25-story tower without equipment to reach the flames. The United Arab Emirates is considering bans on flammable panels in high-rise buildings after more recent back-to-back tower fires.

An Al Arab journalist, Marzouki Faisal, reported that the route to the Villaggio daycare center wound through a "maze" of narrow halls and stairways. He and others questioned the rules that allow childcare sites inside commercial buildings.

"What happened is murder as a result of negligence and idleness," he wrote.

The full list of those killed has not been issued by Qatar officials, but most of the nationalities are known from statements by various countries and families. The young victims include a 3-year-old French child, four Spanish children, an 18-month-old South African toddler and the New Zealand triplets, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes.

"It's absolutely devastating," the triplets' grandmother, Jo Turner, told Fairfax Media in New Zealand.

Spain's El Pais newspaper said the Spanish children killed included three siblings, aged 2 to 7, and a 7-year-old girl from another family. Another newspaper, El Mundo, said the Spanish mothers dropped off their children while they shopped.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal was among those expressing their condolences via Twitter to the "families and friends" of the victims. The world No. 2 has appeared in a number of tournaments in the Gulf state.

At least three of the nursery teachers, women from the Philippines, died of smoke inhalation, Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in Manila. A South African woman who worked at the center also died, said a South African government statement.

The Villaggio opened in 2006 and is one of Qatar's most popular shopping and amusement destinations in fast-growing Qatar, which will host football's 2022 World Cup.

More than three-quarters of Qatar's population of 1.8 million residents are foreigners attracted to the tiny nation for jobs ranging from laborers to government advisers.

Sheik Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, the minister of state for interior affairs, said authorities have carried out repeated search operations in the mall and confirmed that no one is still trapped inside, according to comments posted on the ministry's website.

Qatar's Interior Ministry said Tuesday that civil defense crews contained two "limited" fires at a school and the Qatar Aeronautics College. It said there were no casualties in either fire.

Funeral services for victims of the Villaggio fire were expected later Tuesday, it added.

___

Associated Press writers Brian Murphy and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Alan Clendenning in Madrid, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand, Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila and Donna Bryson in Johannesburg contributed to this report.



RELATED ARTICLES

Wisconsin City Council Turns Over EMS to Hospital

Vote in Platteville transfers control of EMS to Southwest health Center.

21 People Rescued From Drifting Houseboat in Texas

Austin-Travis County EMS said none of the occupants were injured.

Austin-Travis County EMS Honored with Mission: Lifeline Gold Award

AHA award recognizes successful implementation of quality improvement measures.

Construction Worker injured in fall at Maine Water Treatment Plant

Firefighters had to cut through reinforcing bar to access the patient.

Wisconsin Council Votes on Ambulance Service Change

Vote could move responsibility of EMS delivery to area hospital.

Ohio Law Would Allow EMTs to Treat Injured Animals

Proposed bill would not allow people to call 911 for pets.

Features by Topic

Featured Careers

 

JEMS TV

FEATURED VIDEO TOPICS

Learn about new products and innovations featured at EMS Today 2015

 

JEMS Connect

CURRENT DISCUSSIONS

 
 

EMS BLOGS

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts