Inside the Middle East
May 29, 2012
Posted: 1206 GMT

Tragic images out of the Qatari capital Doha as families mourn the deaths of 19 people in a fire at an upscale mall, including 13 children. It seems the fire began in the Gympanzee nursery and fire fighters had to break through the roof to get it.

The dead include four teachers, two would-be rescue workers, and thirteen children from multiple nationalities including 2-year-old triplets from New Zealand.

The Qatari government has ordered  an immediate investigation into the incident. A Civil Defense official said at a press conference yesterday that the roof and staircase of the nursery had collapsed, forcing rescue workers to create an opening in the roof to take out the victims.

Eyewitness Christine Wigton told CNN "There were no sprinklers, and there was nothing that would tell somebody that something was wrong."

Qatari authorities insist that all buildings adhere to strict codes per civil defense.

Disturbingly, a Qatar expat forum flagged exactly this issue as far back as February 2009 in a post titled "Fire Hazard at Villagio", with photographs claiming to show padlocked fire exits at the Villagio Mall itself.  

CNN cannot confirm the accuracy of these photos or the information claimed:

Photo from Qatar Living expat forum from February 2009 claiming to be at Villagio Mall.

Photo from an expat forum in Qatar. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of these photos, their location, or date.

An eerie comment posted over three years ago rings ominous on this tragic day...

A gathering is planned today at 5pm Doha time at nearby Aspire Park to commemorate the victims.

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Anna   May 29th, 2012 12:32 pm ET

I live in Doha and I know some of the victims, i was really sad and unexpected to be honest, I ma talking about the severity of the fire, not the fire itself, because things like this don't happen here..
R.I.P to those who died and my condolences to the victims families.

aal   May 29th, 2012 5:52 pm ET

being so far away from home this really hurts me deep. i from qatar but live abroad just hearing about something like this happening makes my heart drop, especially since this is sooooooooo rare and doesnt happen... to all those who died my condolences go to to the families and may they rest in peace

Michael   May 30th, 2012 3:52 pm ET

Sadly, chain locking fire exits is a comon (and stupid) practice throughout Asia and the developing world. I have left crowded movie theatres because of this.

Celine   May 31st, 2012 12:17 am ET

I am sadden by this news, condolences to the families of the
dead. May they Rest in Peace.
Doha is a developed place,how can this happen? did parents
ensured that there were fire exits and safety measures in the
Nursery? I am shocked that the Mall Management team did not
see the photo above, Did the teachers have access to Fire Ext.
Did the fire alarms work and if so was it registered at a central
station, I am confused....

I am working in safety, Hazards and Risk stares me everyday
but this one is shocking.

Francis   June 2nd, 2012 4:24 pm ET

This is evidence that may be used to have a class-action suit against the Mall officials and its company. This will allow the families of the victims to claim damages from the company since many of them have lost their sole bread winners.

Adel Saudi Arabia   June 4th, 2012 5:25 am ET

As a safety measure a fire drill should be performed at least twice a year to ensure that emergency exists are available and accessible as well as training the studnets on the behavior expected from them during fires.

We do this practice in Saudi Arabia but not cross the board.

Sara   August 11th, 2012 12:27 am ET

Thank God local sites like Qatar News and helped give coverage. We'd be lost without them.

They even helped share what the world was saying.

I just wanted to share these

List of Villaggio fire coverage around the world,35465

Answers to the Villaggio Fire,35465

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