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Emergency exit was locked - mall fire witness

Monday 24 Dec 2012 4:05 p.m.

Martin Weekes (file)

Martin Weekes (file)

By 3 News online staff

The father of the New Zealand triplets who died in the Doha mall fire in May says he believes children at their nursery could have escaped were it not for a locked emergency exit.

The trial of the owners of the Villagio Mall, the childcare centre and a government official is finally underway in Qatar following a number of postponements.

The fire killed 19 people and is understood to have been started by faulty wiring within a fluorescent light.

Martin Weekes, father of two-year-olds Lillie, Jackson and Willsher, says a witness at the trial has described that one of two emergency exits at the Gympanzee daycare centre had been locked externally by management at the mall.

"If that one hadn't been [locked] the kids would have been able to escape", he told Fairfax.

According to Qatar Civil Defence, who gave evidence on day one of the trial:

  • the mall had been repeatedly fined for using flammable paint;
  • mall owners ignored requests to maintain fire alarms and sprinklers;
  • firefighters were not properly trained to handle the fire.

READ MORE: Doha trial reveals heartbreaking failings

Witnesses are expected to continue to give evidence in the trial next week.

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