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Posted On: 9 June 2012 12:57 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:12 pm

Quick Report from Villaggio Fire incident - the Gympanzee side

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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Here's an updated report on the Villaggio fire incident that was sent over to us. This was a note from the parents of the triplets who died in Villagio Fire To Iman Al Kuwari: Iman you have been such a joy for to me to known. I am so sad to read you have been 'arrested'. I know you created gympanzee with the attention of serving the community. I know your children played there. I feel you have done nothing to contribute to this awful situation. Much love Jane and Martin x Brief report of facts and media Employee at Nike shop at Villagio claimed the fire started in the electrical wires of the Nike shop storage room, which was located near to Gympazee. He personally saw the fire and ran down to inform appropriate channels of fire. While a nursery has an educational curriculum, Gympanzee was a care taking activity facility that included wall climbing, painting, dancing, gymnastics, and story telling as well as field trips. The premise primarily served as a drop area for parents who wanted to leave their children to play while they shopped the mall. Gympanzee was not a nursery as defined by Ministry of Business and Trade or Education Authority. The security office of the Villagio mall, owned by Abdulaziz Rabban, was located right next to Gympazee. The question must be asked then, why did security claim they did not know of Gympanzees whereabouts or that children were there. Why did Villagio security not have a floor plan, and why did Villagio not evacuate the kids first when they evacuated the mall. Gympanzee had all required permit approvals from the appropriate ministries. In addition, Civil Defence had visited the location, three weeks prior to fire, and renewed Gympanzees permits and licenses. Civil defence inspected the premise, observed the activities of the Center, and approved. The staff of Gympanzee were prepared for fire emergencies, had received fire safety training and had performed multiple fire drills according to sources from Gympanzee. Gympanzee staff allegedly called fire dept immediately upon learning of fire & were told rescue was on it's way. Rescue came 2hrs later. Witness accounts from several sources report rescue team was late to respond. The MoI had issued a report saying that the response team arrived minutes to the scene though. The owner of Gympazee was there from the start screaming for attention for the children and trying to get into the fire herself to save the children. Owner of Gympanzee, along with all her family members, were at scene throughout fire starting from onset of fire, actively doing everything possible to get her staff an the kids out. Gympanzee owner and Minister of Interior ran around removing their shoes & traditional gear trying to get into fire while Villagio staff stood watching. [editor's note: of course it's not unreasonable for normal staff to not jump into the fire] Villagio mall security and management officers did not locate floor plans for Gympanzee when they were requested to by the rescue team. The Villagio mall staircase leading to Gympanzee on second floor collapsed, trapping the staff and children of gympanzee inside while smoke rolled into the area causing zero visibility in corridors leading to emergency exits. In addition, the Villagio emergency corridor lights failed, the sprinkler system failed, and the fire alarms failed. [editor's note: according to Gympanzee staff] The owners family members have entered the Gympanzee premise to retrieve license and permit documents and to take photos of the premise. Immediate reports reveal nothing was burned in Gympanzee. A close relative of Gympanzee owner Iman Al Kuwari speaks to @dohanews, answering qs about her and the center Gympanzee play area was lawfully registered as "centre for children's amusement." Excellent AJE Web article on Qatar's failings in the Villagio Fire found here: Link shows a Syrian parent explaining to firefighters how to get to the daycare at #VillagioFire she lost her daughter This AFP piece reports that Civil Defense were not aware of the children, which has been widely reported by witnesses, however also writes that Gympanzee did not have permits to run, which is false. Huge blaze in Qatar mall leaves 19 dead - 13 of them children Villagio Fire Official in Social Affairs Ministry says it never issued a permit for Gympanzee Clear scapegoating campaign taking place as Civil Defense had just been to premise to Inspect and could have raised this instead of renewing the permit. Photo Gallery: Scenes from the #VillagioFire aftermath today Qatar: Deadly Blaze in Shopping Mall At least 13 children, 4 teachers, fire fighter killed in #Doha mall blaze pictures from #Villagio mall in #Qatar Government minister's daughter among 5 held over #Qatar shopping mall fire that killed 19 #QATAR : Interior Ministry says 13 children among 19 killed in fire at a Doha shopping mall: Our question is, do you think it's right that individuals were arrested?