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Witnesses blame poor safety in deadly Qatar fire

Witnesses blame poor safety in deadly Qatar fire
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Qatar’s Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has ordered an investigation into the deadly fire at Doha’s largest shopping mall.

Nineteen foreigners, including 13 children, were killed in the fire, which is thought to have started in the centre’s nursery.

Four of the dead children were Spanish. Three were New Zealanders, believed to be two-year-old triplets.

“The family obviously are dealing with the terrible grief that they have at this time. The consulate is coming over from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to support the family. The grandparents, who are here in New Zealand, are going to Qatar this evening,” said the country’s Prime Minister John Key.

Witnesses have criticised safety procedures and speak of a lack of organisation.

The authorities have defended the rescue effort, saying fire crews were on the scene within minutes, and had to reach the creche via the roof as the stairs had collapsed.

Officials believe the cause might have been a short-circuit or a discarded cigarette.

The Villagio Mall is part of an Italian-themed complex, which also includes a hotel and theme park.

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world. The majority of its two million inhabitants are foreign nationals.