Kiwi triplets killed in Doha mall fire

PALOMA MIGONE AND BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 17:33 29/05/2012

Kiwi children dead in Doha mall fire

An injured man on a stretcher receives medical attention after a blaze at the Villaggio Mall in Doha's west end.
Reuters Zoom
An injured man on a stretcher receives medical attention after a blaze at the Villaggio Mall in Doha's west end.

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The devastated mother of triplets who died in a Doha fire has pleaded with her parents to rush to her side.

Triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, aged two, died in a fire that ripped through a childcare centre in a mall in the Qatari capital overnight, New Zealand time.

The toddlers' parents, Jane and Martin Weekes, have been living and working in Doha for several years.

Their Wellington grandparents are rushing to be at their daughter's side as the family deals with the tragedy.

Jane's father, Ron Turner, is at Auckland Airport waiting to fly to Qatar with his wife Jo and his son-in-law's brother, David Weekes. The trio are expected to arrive in Qatar tomorrow afternoon.

Turner this afternoon said he had recently received a text message from his daughter saying "Hurry, it's tough here''.

The royal family of Qatar has announced a committee will be formed to investigate the cause and circumstances of the fire, which killed 19 people.

His Highness the Deputy Emir and heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued the decision today, the Qatar News Agency reported.

The committee will be headed by HE Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah and will include a number of experts and specialists. Its findings are expected to be completed in a week.

HH the Deputy Emir and Heir Apparent expressed his "deep sorrow'' for the tragic incident and extended  his sincerest condolences to the families of the victims.

MEMORIAL SERVICE TO REMEMBER THE VICTIMS

A large Kiwi contingent is expected at a memorial service for the victims of the fire.

The public service will be held at Aspire Park next to the Villaggio shopping mall at 2am (New Zealand time).

New Zealand journalist Mereana Hond, who works for Al Jezeera, said at least 40 Kiwis and a big turn out of ex-pats would turn out to pay their respects.

The service will have a Maori component to it, including a karakia, or prayer,

'THEY WERE EVERYTHING TO HER'

A video of Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes from Jane Weekes' YouTube account.


For Jane Weekes, her two-year-old triplets were her world.

Her ''monkeys'', as she called them, were among the 13 children killed in the fire.

Jo Turner  this morning expressed the family's despair.

"Our daughter rang, what can you say? It's absolutely devastating."

Jane had lived in Qatar for about five years, returning to New Zealand to give birth to the triplets.

"They were everything to her. She was a great mum. She was a hands on mum," Turner said.

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She was "devastated, absolutely devastated" when she heard the news this morning.

Turner understood the children died in the fire, but did not ask her daughter for details.

"I didn't push her for any information. She just told us what she needed to tell us.

"It was just that 'our babies they died in a fire at the day care centre'."

A MUM'S LOVE

The triplets had just turned two last month and recently started going to childcare three times a week.

They were also potty training, according to Jane's regular updates on her Babycenter profile page.

She was hoping they would go without nappies in the next few weeks.

Among the pictures posted, the triplets could be seen wearing their first-Christmas outfit and enjoying a swim in the pool.

Jane wrote she was the happiest when the children would sit around a table ''laughing like loons at each other''.

''They are so blessed to be surrounded by so much activity (they are SUPER busy!) and smiles and laughter,'' she said.

In her last post, Jane described how much the triplets loved being naked and flushing toilets as part of their potty training.

''They love sitting on the big toilet or potty and in the last few weeks are getting to either with prompting from us or even on their own about 60 per cent of the time,'' she said.

''I've no plans to go out without nappies yet, so am very much going the softly softly route at the moment.

''But no nappies at night is miles off my radar. This freaks me out!''

Jane is a senior sales officer at Qatar Airways, and lives in Doha with her husband Martin, a former Eden Park ceo, who is now a group senior adviser for q.media.

The couple had travelled back to New Zealand when Jane was due to give birth, something she was thankful for as she had complications during pregnancy.

They were premature, born at 30 weeks and two days. They weighed 1.1, 1.3 and 1.5kg and were on continuous positive airway pressure for varying lengths of time.

They all had a blood transfusion for anaemia, which was common for premature babies.

The triplets spent nine weeks in hospital, with the boys ready to go home a few days before Lillie. However, they were kept in hospital together.

''In the end our peanut was released with an apnoea monitor which we had for six weeks until we left the country,'' Jane wrote.

The couple travelled back to Qatar from New Zealand when their babies were months old.

The family had travelled together several times after that, going to Bali when the children were seven months old and in July last year they went to Thailand.

''We took new books and toys which helped somewhat but none of these were as fun as trouping up and down the aisles, wanting to nose at all the other passengers, hang out with the flight attendants in the galley and then climb up the seats.''

Jane, in August, said the family were planning to visit New Zealand in January.

''I have no idea how this will work and am seriously considering consuming large quantities of alcohol and running up and down the aisles myself,'' she said.

Travelling with the triplets was harder when they were babies, until they discovered Barney on DVD, she said.

She described how she loved coordinating the children's clothes, dressing them in matching jeans and t-shirts. If they had different outfits, they had to be the same colour.

Jane was announced the winner of the Mother of March ''Best mum in Doha'' competition. She won two nights in a West Bay luxury suite, including babysitting services for the triplets.

The family had two rescued dogs, who were ''awesome cleaning up food thrown from the highchairs''.

SPAIN MOURNS CHILDREN WHO PERISHED

Meanwhile, the father of three boys originally from Madrid who died in the fire says his family is "broken".

His sons aged seven, five and two, were at the Gympanzee daycare centre when the blaze started.

Camilo Travesedo told Spanish media that firefighters and rescue services took half an hour to get the children out and when they did, most were dead.

Mr Travesedo who worked for a company in Doha said that he and his family were "broken " .

He expects his son's bodies to be flown to Spain on Thursday with the help of the Spanish Government.

The life of a seven-year-old Spanish girl was also claimed by the fire.

FIRES AT GIRLS' SCHOOL, COLLEGE

Fires broke out at an aviation college and a girls' school in Qatar on Tuesday, a day after the shopping mall blaze.

Officials on Tuesday said a small fire broke out in the Qatar Aeronautical College while messages on social media said another was doused at the Fatima Bint Al-Mogeera school in Doha.

"There was a fire, but a very small one. It has been put out,'' a representative of the aviation college told Reuters, adding that the fire was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

College director general, Ali al-Maliki, said no one was hurt in the fire, which broke out on the ground floor.

The fires raised questions about fire safety standards in the Gulf Arab state, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and one of the richest countries in the world.

Fairfax NZ with Reuters

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