'No problem' say police over trapped children

Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
the Weekes triplets
TRAGIC LOSS: Triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, who were killed in a mall fire in Qatar in May.

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The husband of a childcare worker who died in the Doha Mall fire said he told police that children were trapped inside the burning building, but the officers kept saying: "No problem."

Louie Aban, 32, whose wife Maribel Orosco, 29, was an accountant at the Gympanzee daycare centre in the Villaggio Mall, told a lower criminal court hearing yesterday that Orosco called him three times during the fire.

Two-year-old New Zealand triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, who were at Gympanzee, were among 19 people - 13 of them children - who died in the mall fire in May last year.

Aban said that when he got the first call at 11.05am, Orosco told him there was a fire in the mall and to come immediately to help them, Doha News reported.

Aban said he told his wife to wet clothes to put over the mouths of the children and run down the stairs, but Orosco said the smoke was too thick.

While in his car on the way to Villaggio, Aban received two more calls from his wife. "Drive fast, come fast!" Orosco told him, as he heard crying in the background. When asked why she was telling him to come, Aban responded: "[Because] no-one will help them."

The last call was to say goodbye.

When Aban arrived at the mall, police barred him from entering. He said he told officers that his wife and several children were trapped inside, "but they kept saying, ‘No problem'."

Nearly two hours later, unable to find the Gympanzee centre, firefighters suited-up Aban so he could show them the way. But by then the air was too hot and the smoke too thick to make it inside the nursery.

Meanwhile, the Qatar Government continues to refuse to make public its report into the fire.

Martin Weekes, father of the triplets, said: "This is the eighth trial and we still don't have a copy of the investigation report."

He doesn't expect quick results. He believes the court's ruling will be appealed and it could take years before a final decision is made.

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