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Friday, June 25, 2021

Filipino father and daughter die following Doha apartment fire

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Eulogy for Pingul family
Eulogy for Pingul family

A fire in an apartment block in Al Muntazah that killed a Filipina community leader last week has also claimed the lives of her husband and teenage daughter, a close family member has said.

Hamad Medical Corp. employee Rafaele Paule (Raffy) Pingul, 45, died late last night (Dec. 12) while Micaela, 13, passed away on Thursday night (Dec. 10), family member Sherwin Borras told Doha News.

Both had been in a critical condition in Hamad General Hospital’s intensive care unit since they were rescued from the fire, which broke out in their HMC-provided accommodation in the early hours last Monday (Dec. 7).

Chona Rian-Pingul, 47, who was well-known in the Filipino and Catholic church communities in Qatar and had worked for Qatar Shell, died last week as a result of the fire.

Pingul family
Pingul family

Son Rafael Lorenzo, 15, survived the fire. His sister, who is known as Bambi and was studying in the Philippines at the time, flew to Qatar last week and both are being cared for by Borras, who is Rian-Pingul’s brother-in-law, and his family.

While the cause of the fire is still under police investigation, Borras said the family believe it started in Micaela’s room and spread through the three-bedroom apartment while the family slept.

‘Love and support’

Hundreds of family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers packed the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rosary last night to attend a eulogy service for the three family members, Borras said.

“We had planned to hold the service for Chona and Micaela, then at the last minute we heard that Raffy would not be with us.

There was a big crowd which came to the church – colleagues from Shell and HMC, friends and people that we didn’t know, but knew them. There was so much love and support for the family, it was overwhelming. So many people have turned out to support us, and we are very grateful,” Borras said.

“Rafael and Bambi are staying with me and my family. They will always be my family and we will take care of them,” he added.

Eulogy for Pingul family
Eulogy for Pingul family

The family are hoping to fly the victims’ bodies back to the Philippines later this week for their funerals, once official paperwork has been completed.

“Chona’s father and brother are waiting for them. We would like to get them back home as soon as we can,” Borras told Doha News.

The family had lived in Qatar for 16 years, and had been prominent members of the Catholic church here, setting up the local chapter of a faith group Couples for Christ in 2000.

Paying tribute to them, Borras described them as “helpful and loving”, adding: “They had the love of many, many people here in Qatar.”

Rian-Pingul had worked as a contract analyst with Qatar Shell since 2008 and Raffi worked since 1999 as an operating theater technician for HMC.

The fire and news of Rian-Pingul’s death was felt in communities throughout Qatar, prompting hundreds to express their condolences on social media as well as to the family directly.

In a statement last week, a Qatar Shell spokeswoman said: “Chona was a cherished member of the Qatar Shell family and she will be greatly missed.”

Following the fire, HMC said it had moved other families who had been staying in the apartment building where the fire broke out to emergency accommodation.

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