Thirteen children die in fire in a shopping centre

At LEAST 19 people, including 13 children, were killed in a fire that ripped through a shopping and recreation complex in Qatar yesterday, the country’s interior ministry said last night.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze, at the Villagio Mall in Doha’s west end, and Qatar’s interior ministry said an investigation was under way.

“There don’t seem to have been any fire alarms or sprinklers at the mall,” said a relative of a two-year-old child who died in the fire.

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Smoke was seen billowing from the centre – the fire is believed to have started at its Gympanzee nursery.

A ministry official said none of the dead were Qataris. Four of the adults were teachers and the other two were civil defence personnel, the official said. Seventeen people were also wounded, including four children.

Many expatriates live in Qatar, a gas and oil-rich Gulf Arab state with one of the highest standards of living in the world.