Firemen who were called out to tackle a fire at a Doha mall that left 19 people dead, including four Spanish children, forgot about the shopping center’s play area after they went in, a witness said on Tuesday.
“The firemen forgot that there was a play center and they concentrated their efforts on putting out the fire,” said the witness, identified as Daya Jaled.
Only around 30 minutes later, when they were told that there was a play center with about 20 children inside, did they begin their rescue.
“They couldn’t go through the regular access points so they had to break in through the ceiling. But by then it was too late,” Jaled said.
The cause of the blaze is still unknown but authorities are conducting a full inquiry.
Three of the four Spanish children were from the same family, officials said. Their father was working for the OHL construction firm in Doha.
“Four teachers, two firemen and 13 children — seven girls and six boys, have died in the fire,” said Qatar’s Interior Minister Abdalá Bin Naser Bin Jalifa al Thani at a news conference.
A parent of another child complained that fire alarms did not go off. The play center was on the first floor but located in an area that was difficult to find, the parent said