South Africans killed in Doha blaze - reports

2012-05-28 20:04
Cape Town - South Africans are among the 19 people killed in a fire at an upscale Qatar mall, reports said on Monday.

Al Jazeera reported that 13 children were killed at the Vilaggio Mall in Doha, and was told  "the nationalities of the children included South African, Japanese, Spanish, Filipino, and also European and Arab, but no Qatari".

According to an unconfirmed tweet, one of the South African victims is an 18-month-old boy.

AFP reported that the victims were "seven girls and six boys, in addition to four female teachers," the Qatari interior ministry said on its Twitter page, citing the country's health minister.

Two members of the civil defence also died in the fire at the capital's main Villagio mall, it said.

The fire started at a nursery, state minister for the interior Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani told reporters.

Firefighters had to break through the roof to get to trapped children after a staircase to the first-floor nursery collapsed, he added.

Dense smoke inside the mall combined with the fierce temperature from the flames made reaching the trapped children very difficult, a representative of the civil defence told a news conference.

Health Minister Khaled al-Qahtani said 17 people were injured in the blaze, mostly firefighters.

Footage posted earlier online showed black smoke billowing from the shopping centre as emergency vehicles rushed to the scene.

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