Fire safety in Qatar questioned after new blazes Tuesday

Two more fires broke out Tuesday at separate locations, following Monday's deadly blaze at a shopping mall in Doha.

Osama Faisal/AP
Smoke rises above the Villaggio Mall, in Doha's west end, as a fire took hold of the upscale mall in the Qatari capital of Doha Monday May 28. Qatar's Interior Ministry said 13 children were among 19 people killed in a fire that broke out at one of the Gulf state's fanciest shopping mall on Monday.

Fires broke out at an aviation college and a girls school in Qatar on Tuesday, a day after 19 foreigners died in a blaze at a shopping mall, focusing attention on safety standards in the Gulf Arab state.

Thirteen expatriate children were among those killed in Monday's fire at the Villagio Mall in Doha's west end, including two-year-old triplets from New Zealand.

Officials on Tuesday said a small fire broke out in the Qatar Aeronautical College while messages on social media said another was doused at the Fatima Bint Al-Mogeera school in Doha.

"There was a fire, but a very small one. It has been put out," a representative of the aviation college told Reuters, adding that the fire was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

College director general, Ali al-Maliki, said no one was hurt in the fire, which broke out on the ground floor.

The fires raised questions about fire safety standards in the Gulf Arab state, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and one of the richest countries in the world.

"The fire ... is one of the worst tragedies to strike Qatar in living memory and drives home the fact that safety needs take precedence over everything else when it comes to the country's ambitious future plans," an editorial in top-selling Qatari English daily Gulf Times said on Tuesday.

The country of 1.7 million people, most of them expatriates, has outlined public investment plans worth $95 billion over five years to 2016, as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup. This week it unveiled budgetary spending of $49 billion for new fiscal year ending March 2013.

Authorities have ordered an investigation into the blaze near a childcare area at the mall amid reports that security staff at the complex reacted slowly to the blaze and in chaotic fashion. Several at the complex told Reuters fire alarms did not go off or rang only dimly.

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