The Villaggio Mall in Qatar, which suffered a fire last May in which 19 people including 13 children were killed, was evacuated again on Wednesday. According to the Interior Ministry, the evacuation was due to a malfunctioning of an AC unit. However, shoppers told news outlets that the cause of the evacuation was a second fire.
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Investigation of the fire last year revealed that the mall did not follow government-mandated safety standards. That led Qatar’s interior ministry to conduct surprise inspections of the country’s malls and other public places, including schools, hotels, residential complexes, and movie theaters. Nonetheless, many affected by the fire were dissatisfied with the government’s response as they were neither asked to testify at trial nor given copies of the government report on the fire.
Although the interior ministry claims that the latest incident at the Qatar mall was the result of a faulty AC unit, shoppers are not so sure. One shopper told Arabian Business that there had been a fire in a clothing store near Entrance 2 of Villaggio Mall. Other shoppers told The Peninsula that fire alarms had gone off, and there was a smell of something burning.
The mall was reopened an hour later, with the exceptions of Topshop and Topman, which reportedly experienced a short circuit.