The daughter of Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage has been arrested along with four others following the fire at Doha’s Villaggio Mall, which killed 19 people.
Iman Al-Kuwari, who ran the Gympanzee childcare facility in the retail centre, was arrested along with the mall’s manager, assistant manager and the assistant director of security, Qatar News Agency reported.
Hundreds of mourners gathered in a Doha park yesterday to hold a vigil for the victims of the fire, which claimed the lives of 13 children along with four teachers and two firefighters.
Among the victims were two-year old New Zealand triplets, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, whose parents Jane and Martin Weekes attended the vigil.
The Wellington-couple, who have lived in Doha since 2007, described the triplets as “the joy of our lives” in a statement.
Qatari authorities have ordered a probe into mall fire, which has prompted questions about safety standards in the Gulf state.
The fire broke out at around 11am on Monday and up to 180 civil defence personnel were said to be involved in extinguishing the blaze and rescue efforts.
No casualties were initially reported but by 4pm local press reported that a number of children had died after a fire in the nursery.
Qatari authorities have yet to confirm how the fire was started, although reports from the Ministry of Interior highlighted a “lack of floor plans, thick smoke and heat and malfunctioning sprinkler systems hindered rescue efforts” during the fire.
The Villaggio opened in 2006 and is one of the emirate’s most popular shopping and amusement destinations.