Qatar fire kills 19 foreigners, including 13 children


General view of the Villagio mall in Doha, Qatar. A fire near a nursery in the mall claimed 19 lives, including those of 13 children, on May 28, 2012.


Christof Koepsel

A fire in an upscale shopping mall in Qatar claimed the lives of at least 19 foreigners, including 13 children, on Monday, according to the country's Interior Ministry, said Reuters.

According to the Associated Press, at least some of the victims died while rescue workers tried to reach a child care center in the Villaggio mall in Doha.

Among the 13 children, seven were girls and six were boys, Agence France Presse reported. Two members of the civil defense also died in the fire, according to the Interior Ministry.

The AFP reported that the fire started in the nursery, and firefighters had to break through the roof to get to the children after a staircase collapsed.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry said four of the children who were killed were Spanish citizens.

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Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Sheik Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, said, "We tried our best, but when we got there, the children were trapped inside. We are very sorry for what happened. We tried as much as we could to save these people," according to the AP.

Al Jazeera said the nationalities of the children included Japanese, Filipino, South African, European and Arab. Of the four teachers killed in the blaze, three were Filipino and one was African.

In addition, seventeen people, including four children, were also wounded, according to Reuters.

Authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire, though one witness said the sprinkler system was not working.

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