Three New Zealand triplets killed in Doha mall fire

Three triplets, aged just two years old, are among 19 people killed in this morning’s horrific shopping mall fire in Doha, Qatar.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has confirmed the deaths of the triplets at a news conference.

Qatari Interior Minister Sheik Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa al-Thani said in a news conference he would immediately open a full investigation into the cause of this tragedy at Villagio Mall, offering his sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

Villagio Mall stretches 360,000 square feet.

Arabian says other nationals from Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Benin and Arab countries were among the victims.

Newscore online news site says that 180 civil defense personnel were involved in extinguishing the blaze and rescue efforts.

Arabian says no explanation over how the fire started had yet been provided.

Four teachers and two civil defence workers were among the victims, according to the ministry.

The flames had surrounded about 20 children in a nursery at the top of the mall after the stairs leading to it collapsed, Interior Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani said.

Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that firefighters had to go through the roof of the mall to get to the nursery where the children were trapped.

The fire broke out at the Villagio Mall, one of the biggest and most popular shopping malls in Doha that also has a movie theatre and an amusement park.

A medical source told dpa that several people suffering from burns or smoke inhalation were being treated in hospitals.

At least 17 people were injured, most of them from the civil defence team, the interior minister told a press conference.

Pictures from the scene showed black smoke billowing from the shopping centre as emergency vehicles rushed to the area.