13 children killed in Doha mall blaze

2012-05-28 19:23
Qatari firefighters and rescue teams rush to Doha's Villagio Mall after a fire broke out at the Gulf emirate's main shopping centre. (AFP)

Qatari firefighters and rescue teams rush to Doha's Villagio Mall after a fire broke out at the Gulf emirate's main shopping centre. (AFP)

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Doha - Qatar's interior ministry said 13 children were among 19 people killed in a fire that broke out at one of the Gulf state's fanciest shopping malls on Monday.

Unconfirmed reports say two South Africans may be among the dead.

All the dead were foreign, an interior ministry official said.

Authorities announced the death toll on the ministry's Twitter page on Monday evening.

Four teachers and two civil defence officials were among the dead, the ministry said.

Another 17 people, mostly rescue workers, were injured, according to authorities.

Witnesses earlier reported thick black smoke that could be seen pouring from the ritzy Villaggio mall around midday.

The interior ministry said the fire was extinguished hours later.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Villaggio opened in 2006 and is one of Qatar's most popular shopping and amusement destinations. It includes an ice skating rink and indoor Venice-style gondola rides.

New construction projects such as the Villaggio have transformed the face of once-sleepy Doha in recent years, as the country benefits from a hydrocarbon boom.

The Opec member state is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Qatar won the right to host soccer's 2022 World Cup a year and a half ago.

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