A massive fire that erupted on Monday, May 28 in Doha, the capital of Qatar, has left 19 people dead, including 13 children, after the fire spread to a play area.
State officials confirmed the tragedy, which occurred at Villagio Mall - a luxurious retail center in the center of the city. The victims included people from various nations including Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Benin and other Arab countries, as well as locals.
A local newspaper revealed that the fire spread to a play area within the mall, which accounts for the high portion of dead children.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar's minister of state for interior affairs, has said that the cause of the fire is not yet known, but promised a full investigation.
Hundreds of people managed to escape when the fire broke out around 11 a.m. local time, Arabian Business reported. But although 180 civil defense personnel quickly rushed to help in rescue efforts, 19 people have been reported to have died.
The Qatari Ministry of Interior had initially reported that there were no casualties on its Twitter page, but new reports corrected that information around 4 p.m. local time.
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At a later press conference on Monday evening, officials confirmed that among the 19 dead were 13 children, four teachers and two civil defense workers. Another 17 people are said to have been injured.
The Villagio Mall, which features over 220 retail, entertainment and dining outlets, was named as one of the world's most luxurious malls by Forbes magazine in 2008.
Video footage captured black smoke engulfing the huge mall as emergency vehicles rushed to the scene, AFP reported. The official website of Villagio has not yet reported on the tragedy.