Fire breaks out at Dh3 billion mall under construction in Qatar
A fire broke out on Saturday at a US$825 million (D3 billion) mall under construction in Doha, near to one of the stadiums that will host matches during the 2022 World Cup.
Hours after the blaze started at the site near Rayyan Sports Club, on the city’s western outskirts, Qatar’s interior ministry said civil defence authorities had “completely” contained the fire.
There were no reported injuries, but the building contractor said about 14,000 labourers and staff had been evacuated.
The Mall of Qatar, which will be the country’s largest shopping centre once complete, has been under construction since 2012 and was scheduled to open later this year.
Video on social media showed a thick cloud of black smoke rising over the site.
A Facebook statement by the contractor working on the centre said the fire broke out at 2.30pm.
“No casualties have been reported, and over 14,000 labourers and staff were safely evacuated from the premises,” said Mowafaq Kharbat, project director of Urbacon Trading and Contracting.
“An investigation is being conducted and details will be provided once the investigation is complete.”
The Mall of Qatar is planned to be a 500,000-square-metre retail and entertainment complex connected to the Doha Metro. It is close to the 40,000-seater Al Rayyan stadium, which is undergoing renovation for the World Cup.
A previous fire at a shopping mall was the deadliest disaster to strike Qatar in recent memory. The 2012 blaze at the high-end Villaggio shopping mall in Doha killed 19 people, including 13 children.
Most of those killed were at a day care centre inside the shopping mall, which opened in 2006 and houses an ice-skating rink and Venice-style gondolas.
Investigators blamed faulty wiring for sparking the blaze, but cited a number of factors that contributed to its spread and the deaths. Five people were sentenced to prison in 2013 in connection with the fire, but an appeals court judge overturned those convictions last October.
* Associated Press, Agence France-Presse
Updated: April 2, 2016 04:00 AM