Triplets' mother writes of tragic fire

06:48, Nov 28 2012
Weekes triplets
The last photo of triplets Willsher, Jackson and Lillie, taken at 8.30am on the day of the fatal Doha mall fire.

Six months since her triplets were among the 19 people killed in the Doha mall fire, Jane Weekes has written a deeply moving account of the day her children died.

The New Zealand two-year-olds - Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes - were among 13 children who died in the Villaggio Mall blaze on May 28. 

Their dad, Martin Weekes, said his wife had worked through the night  to write about that day.

Her account has been published on the children's memorial Facebook page, along with the last picture of the triplets together, taken at 8.30am on the day of the fire.

Jane Weekes tells of being "crammed into a tiny windowless office in Hamad Hospital" along with other frightened parents.

Then Martin Weekes and other parents are called away and shown photos of the children who have been killed. 


She tells of pleading to be allowed to see her children, but being told to make an appointment and come back tomorrow, then going home to a silent house.

The start of a court hearing into the mall blaze has been postponed four times, as some defendants fail to turn up.

Here is Jane Weekes' account:


Six months ago today...

I took this picture at 8.30am on May 28, in the Gympanzee Nursery, in the Villaggio Mall, Doha, Qatar.

It's only one of about 15,000 photos we have of our monkeys but as the very last photo of them together, alive, it now holds so much significance.

It shows Lillie, Jackson and Willsher sitting together, having their normal snack in Gympanzee, before their normal Monday nursery morning began. A normal beginning to the worst day.

They are all wearing co-ordinating Mickey Mouse T-shirts from their Aunty Kim and Uncle Luc.

Lillie is wearing a blue skirt that her Daddy bought her before she was born.  At 2 years old it finally fit her tiny waist.

Jacky couldn't wait to take his shoes off because he was so excited to play in the toy kitchen.

Winkie was hungry for his banana and was wearing purple socks. He would only keep his socks on if they were purple, his favourite colour.  

There were four more photos taken of our children after this one. The first, a picture of Jackson taken just a few hours later, appears on several. His little body being carried off the Villaggio roof by a fire fighter, recognisable by his Mickey Mouse shirt and blue socks. There are smoke smudges on his legs, and his arms are hanging at his sides. 

I didn't see the next photos taken of Lillie, Jacky and Winkie, photos that Martin had to be shown.

Us and other frightened parents were crammed into a tiny windowless office in Hamad Hospital. So many panicking, frightened parents in one tiny office, with no windows and not enough chairs. We were scared to look at each other, too scared to see our own fear reflected in each others' eyes, scared to admit we were each hoping that if anyone has survived, it will be our child, our children.

Hours and a lifetime we waited, until they called Martin away and showed him, and other parents, photos of all of the children killed. 

Thirteen pictures of 13 dead children.

Three of those babies were ours. One was our neighbours' daughter Hana, several others he recognised. He saw them all. It's no wonder Martin still struggles to sleep.

It's over, your children are dead, here's the proof, a photo. We are too busy today to let you hold them and kiss their still-warm cheeks goodbye.

I remember pleading, please, please let me see my babies.

But no. Make an appointment and you can come back tomorrow.

And then there is nothing to do but go home to a house silent for the first time in two years. 

Six months later, it's the small, everyday details in this last, not very exciting photograph that remain clear in my mind when the rest of that day, and the days following are a confusion of fear and despair and pain.

I remember exactly what I said to them, and when I look at this picture I hear my own voice as I put my camera phone in my bag and say to Lillie, Jacky and Winkie as I walk away.

"Mummy loves you, see you later."

The Dominion Post