x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Qatar mall blaze not 'masterminded act' say government officials

Qatar's Ministry of Interior has stated the blaze at the Villaggio mall in Doha was not a deliberate act.

Qatar's Ministry of Interior has refuted rumours that the blaze at the Villaggio mall in Doha, which claimed 19 lives including 13 children, was started deliberately.

An official investigation is taking place into the huge fire which is yet to report its findings, but the Ministry moved to deny rumours circulating on the internet that the tragedy had been caused by a 'masterminded act'.

On its official twitter account the Ministry stated: "There is no truth in what some foreign media reports about Villaggio fire that it was a masterminded act."

Jane and Martin Weekes, the New Zealand parents of the triplets who died in the fire, have called for outside experts brought in to help investigate the blaze.

The Qatar government should "seek the support from international fire and emergency experts to work alongside the team here to gather the facts", they said in a letter.

Their two-year-old triplets, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher, along with 10 other children, four teachers and two firefighters, were killed when the fire broke out at Villaggio, the country's largest mall.

The victims became trapped in a child-care facility Gympanzees as smoke from the fire spread.

Firefighters had to break a hole in the roof of the mall to reach the victims.

Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the country's minister of state for internal affairs, said at a news conference that the investigation would be handled internally.

Since the fire, the Ministry of Interior has advised shoppers to familiarise themselves with floor plans in malls so they know where entrances and fire exits are in case of emergency.