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5 detained in probe of deadly Qatar mall fire

Story highlights

  • The mall's owner and the owner of the nursery are among those detained
  • 19 people died in the Monday blaze at the Villaggio shopping mall in Doha
  • 13 of the dead were children in the mall's nursery

Five people, including the daughter of the Qatari culture minister, were ordered detained as authorities investigate a fire that killed 19 people at a Doha, Qatar, shopping mall, the state-run Qatar News Agency reported.

Thirteen of those who died in the Monday blaze were children in a nursery at the upscale Villaggio shopping mall.

Those detained at the order of the attorney general include the owner of the mall; the owner of the nursery; the mall's director and deputy director; and the mall's assistant director, the news agency reported Tuesday.

The nursery's owner is the daughter of Minister of Culture Iman Al Qawwari.

The mall's security director and the official in charge of issuing licenses were among those summoned by the attorney general, QNA reported.

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The government has set up a committee to investigate "the causes and circumstances" of the blaze, QNA said Monday night. It is also investigating complaints that sprinklers and alarms weren't working at the mall when the blaze broke out.

    Mall fire: "Accident waiting to happen?"

    Christine Wigton, an American living in Doha, told CNN she heard "a buzzer, not very loud" as she walked into the mall, but heard no loud alarms as smoke built up inside. Elementary school-age children were eating at some of the restaurants and no one was trying to escape, she said.

    "There were no sprinklers, and there was nothing that would tell somebody that something was wrong," she said.

    Built in 2006, the mall advertises itself as "the newest and the largest entertainment center in Doha." The Venice-themed complex features gondola rides down an indoor canal, an artificial sky, a 13-screen movie theater, a theme park, skating rink and a bowling alley.

    Qatar's Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani, said earlier the civil defense office reviews safety standards for commercial buildings before they grant a license.

    "The investigation will clarify all the circumstances of the incident and find out the shortcomings and question those who are responsible in order to tackle the matter in the future," he said in remarks carried by QNA.

    Several of the dead were from Qatar's expatriate community.

    The mall's website on Wednesday showed a picture of a black ribbon.

    "We offer our deepest condolences to all the families of the victims and martyrs on duty who lost their lives in the fire," the site says. "May the departed souls rest in peace and may almighty Allah give fortitude to the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss."

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