Investigation underway into Mall of Qatar fire as construction resumes

Published April 5th, 2016 - 03:56 GMT
Nearly 14,000 workers on the Mall of Qatar site were evacuated safely. (Twitter)
Nearly 14,000 workers on the Mall of Qatar site were evacuated safely. (Twitter)

An investigation has been launched into a fire that broke out at the under-construction Mall of Qatar.

The company overlooking the mall project said in an official statement that over 14,000 labourers and staff were safely evacuated.

“An investigation is being conducted and details will be provided once the investigation is complete, the statement quoted Mowafaq Kharbat, Project Director of Urbacon Trading and Contracting, as saying.

When Gulf News visited the site of the blaze on Sunday, a few ambulances were seen parked near the road leading up to the site and construction work seemed to have resumed in full flow.

Big, black fumes hit the Doha skies on Saturday afternoon, as the city dealt with its second incident of fire breakout in less than 24 hours.

Reports of a fire in the Al Rayyan municipality started coming in late afternoon and soon it was clear that origin was the under-construction Mall of Qatar

There were no injuries or loss of life reported although nearly 14,000 workers were present on-site at the time of the incident.

A Twitter user named Vishawanath, who seemed to have been working on-site as the fire broke, posted a series of videos showing the fire from inside and outside the construction site.

In the first video, filmed from inside the mall, a big ball of black smoke was seen rising from the site and a number of workers were seen walking inside the under-construction mall despite the fire.

In the later videos, captured from outside the mall, the fire seemed to have grown in size and workers had assembled outside the mall.

“It was around 3.00pm when I was driving from Madinat Khalifa towards Villaggio mall that I saw a huge black cloud starting to cover the area surrounding the fire and there was grey smoke all over,” Tina, an eye-witness who was among the first to post photos of the fire, told Gulf News.

According to her, there were no indications of fire engines approaching the scene when she first crossed the scene. “I didn’t hear sirens, nor did I see any fire engines approaching the area when I first saw the smoke clouds.”

The Ministry of Interior posted an update on its Twitter account nearly an hour after the fire broke out, saying that civil defence was on-site, fighting the blaze.

Reinforcements for the initial fire-fighting teams were sent later on as eye-witness Tina saw two fire trucks on their way from Al Sadd towards Mall of Qatar at 5.30pm.

It took the civil defence teams more than four hours to douse the fire completely in the area which is one of the key development sites for some of Qatar’s main projects. Apart from the mall, which is slated for an August 2016 opening, a Qatar rail metro station for the green line is also under construction at the site, as well as Al Rayyan stadium, which is undergoing major refurbishment work as it is one of the 2022 Fifa World Cup venues.

Earlier on Friday, another fire-related accident was reported at a restaurant on a busy Doha intersection (Ramada signal). Ministry of interior reported that the fire was controlled quickly without any loss of life.

By Hafsa Adil

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