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Father of three youngsters killed in Qatari fire says firefighters 'took an hour and a half' to get his kids out
ThinkSpain , Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Camilo Travesedo, the father of three children who died on Monday in a fire at a kindergarten in a shopping mall in Doha, said tday that firefighters and rescue services "took an hour and a half to get the children out, and when they did, most were already dead."

"Everything was filled with smoke and no-one could find the children - not the firefighters nor the civil defence officers," said Travesedo, who has been working for OHL in Catar for three years.  He said that he and his family are "devastated".

He said the Spanish government was sending a plane and that there were plans to repatriate the bodies of his young children on Thursday morning.

He said he "doesn't know" if there was negligence in the rescue operation, after some witnesses and the Qatari authorities Qatari authorities admitted that firefighters were not aware of the kindergarten, which further delayed their work.

The children, aged 7, 5 and 2 years, originally from Madrid, were in a kindergarten located on the first floor of the Villaggio mall, a luxury complex with over two hundred stores and a Venice-style theme park.

The parents of the fourth Spanish victim, seven-year-old Isabel, have spoken by 'phone to their family in Campo de Criptana (Ciudad Real) and asked them to be "strong" because they're going to need them when they return to bury their daughter .

The town of Campo de Criptana awoke on Tuesday to the news of the tragic death of Isabel. The girl was playing in the nursery, as there were two days of school holidays, while her parents, Santiago Vela and Yolanda Mascaraque, did some shopping, explained Isabel's maternal grandmother, Juana Beamud.

Of the 19 dead, 13 are children. A New Zealand woman lost triplets in the blaze. The fire also claimed the lives of children from France, Japan, South Africa and the Philippines as well as three Filipino teachers and one teacher from Africa.

Apparently the fire started in a restaurant around 11am on Monday. The rapid spread of smoke and flames through the stairwells of the complex hindered the rescue operation.

Qatari Home Minister, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, said that an investigation will reveal the cause of the fire, and promised to "immediately" punish those involved if there has been negligence.

A source at the Hamad Hospital Administration said the 17 wounded - 15 of whom are members of the Civil Defence Corps and the other two employees of the mall security - were discharged on Tuesday.

Spain's Foreign Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, stated on Tuesday that his department "is already preparing the flight" to repatriate the bodies of four dead children.

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