UK & World News
Parents Of Fire Death Triplets Speak Of Loss
The parents of triplets killed with 16 others in a fire at a mall in Qatar have said they blame no one for the tragedy.
In an emotional interview, New Zealanders Martin and Jane Weekes spoke for the first time about their children Lillie, Jackson and Wilsher, who were killed in the blaze at the Villagio Mall in Doha on Monday.
"We were a family that went everywhere, we travelled the world like Kiwis, as a family, the five of us," Mr Weekes said.
"And everywhere we went, people just flocked around the kids, they made everyone happy wherever they went, people would come up in the street, people we'd never met, and just want to be with them, be photographed with them, play with them, talk to them, just touch them.
"They were very special children, very special children."
The fire started on Monday morning at the mall's Gympanzee nursery on the first floor in a hallway accessible only via a small passage with no emergency fire exit.
Dense smoke and extreme heat created a "death trap" in the corridor as the staircase collapsed, the interior ministry said, making it impossible for rescuers to enter the nursery and forcing an evacuation attempt from the roof.
An investigation has been launched into the blaze amid reports security staff at the complex reacted slowly.
Mr Weekes said the accident was a tragedy and that he did not want to place blame until the cause was understood.
"This tragedy, and it is a tragedy, was an accident and we as a family, and I think the other families, want to understand and know what happened.
"We need to understand what has happened. We need to understand but at this point in time there is no blame. How can you?
"This is just something that is tragic and it's not this country that did it, it's not the people that did it, it was a horrible thing that happened one day."
Mrs Weekes said her two-year-old children had loved the nursery and that she had been comforted by the knowledge they were not alone when they died.
"They absolutely loved it there. I'd drop them off in the morning and they'd go and sit down with their drink and their banana with the teacher and they'd walk off holding her hand.
"They'd always give them a hug on the way home. It's heart breaking to know that the teachers are gone as well, but we know they wouldn't have let them go and they wouldn't have let them be on their own.
"They were with people that they loved," she said.
During the interview with TVNZ, she clutched the triplets' favourite toys, which will be buried with them when they return to Wellington next week.
"They're coming back to New Zealand because they will be with Lillie, Jackson and Will forever," Mrs Weekes said.
"And until the day that those children rest at home, we're looking after them, their best friends 'til that point. They will be laid to rest in Wellington with the children," Mr Weekes added.
Findings from the investigation are expected within a week. The Qatari authorities have already said a committee will be formed to monitor building safety standards.