Minister's daughter held over mall fire

2012-05-30 19:17
Doha - Police in Qatar have arrested five people, including a government minister's daughter, in connection with a shopping mall fire this week that killed 19 people, including 13 children, the state news agency QNA said on Wednesday.

The Gulf Arab state's attorney-general ordered the detention of the upscale Villagio Mall's owner as well as Imran al-Kuwari, daughter of the culture minister and owner of Gympanzee nursery where the children and four teachers perished on Monday.

The others arrested were mall officials, including the shopping centre's chief manager and the head of security, QNA said. It was not immediately clear what charges would be filed.

At a public vigil held on Tuesday, Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari told reporters that his daughter was "the saddest person on earth".

Qatar has been investigating the blaze because of reports that security staff at the mall reacted slowly and in a chaotic fashion. Several people at the complex said that fire alarms did not go off or rang only faintly.

The blaze erupted in the nursery on the first floor of the mall in a hallway accessible only via a small passage with no emergency fire exit. Dense smoke and extreme heat created a "death trap" in the corridor as the staircase collapsed, said the interior minister.

Among the dead were two-year-old triplets from New Zealand. Two South Africans also died.

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