An electrical fault caused a shopping mall blaze last month that killed 19 people, most of them children, at an unlicensed Doha nursery, state news agency QNA quoted investigators on Wednesday as saying.
The blaze, which began in a sporting goods store in Doha’s Villagio Mall, was “due to faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light,” the statement said, adding the plastic components of the light fixture caught fire and quickly spread to the Gympanzee nursery next door.
“The fire was not premeditated,” the statement added.
A first attempt by a store employee and a security guard at the mall to extinguish the fire failed and the nursery caught on fire, QNA reported.
Civil defense workers arrived at the scene three minutes after being alerted to the fire, but only discovered half an hour later that there were children trapped in the nursery.
The nursery, which was not licensed by the ministry of social affairs, did not meet required safety conditions, it said.
An investigating committee found a “lack of adherence to laws, systems, and measures by all concerned parties to different degrees. This includes adherence to design, license and safety conditions, which contributed to the Villagio catastrophe.”
There was also a “lack of response” among the mall’s security staff as well the staff in the store where the fire started.
The committee found that there are no effective plans at Villagio to “prevent, contain or at least reduce the effects of such an incident,” QNA said.
It issued 11 recommendations to reduce the risk of future incidents, including a review of regulations governing the activities of childcare facilities, which allows nurseries to register under other names, such as activity centers.
All 19 people killed in the inferno at the mall on May 28 were foreigners, including the two fire fighters, 13 children and four teachers.
New Zealand triplets and three Spanish siblings were among the dead
Qatari authorities said after the fire that a committee would be formed to monitor building safety standards.
Many expatriates live in Qatar, a gas- and oil-rich Gulf Arab state with one of the highest standards of living in the world.
The Villagio Mall, which opened in 2006, is an Italianate-themed shopping complex with a hotel, theme park and canal plied by gondolas.