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Monday, July 26, 2021

Letters to heaven: Qatar families mark three years since Villaggio fire

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Villaggio vigil, 2012
Villaggio vigil, 2012

With reporting from Riham Sheble and Lesley Walker

Three years ago today, 19 people, including 13 children, four nursery employees and two firefighters, died after a fire ripped through Villaggio Mall in Qatar.

Five people were eventually found guilty of manslaughter after the blaze, including two mall officials, a government employee and the owners of the Gympanzee daycare where the children were being looked after when the fire happened.

Villaggio fire, three years later
Villaggio fire, three years later

Those convicted face five to six years in prison, and have appealed their sentences. Closing arguments are scheduled to take place next month, although a verdict may not come until after the court’s summer recess.

Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, has repeatedly pledged to make sure justice is served in the case, and that those accountable are brought to justice.

Meanwhile, the families of those who lost their loved ones in the fire continue to struggle without them. In these letters, inspired by a piece written by Jane Weekes to her deceased triplets in March, relatives share some of the complex emotions they’ve felt in the 1,095 days since their lives changed forever.


The letters:

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Villaggio fire ebook cover
Ebook cover

For an in-depth understanding of the Villaggio fire and its aftermath, download our 57-page ebook here.


In 2014, the families affected by the Villaggio fire spoke about how they continued struggling to cope two years after the fire. See their video interview here.

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Indifferent
Indifferent
6 years ago

Letters are difficult to read. I can not even start to comprehend what losing a child like this feels like.. Our hearts go out to the families. Utmost and deepest of sincere condolences to you..

NAMA
NAMA
6 years ago

i think about them everyday. i pray for them and their families every time i watch my children. may these angels rest in peace and give their families the stringent to handle the pain. my child used to go to gympanzee and the day of the tragedy i wanted to take her but she slept in the car . i think about that day all the time and the split second decision i took to turn around and go another place . the “what if” question hunts me and it affects me every day when i drop my children to the school and nursery.
May Allah rest the souls of the hero firefighters and teachers who sacrificed their lives to stay with the babies .
everything happens for a reason, even tragedies.

Yummykarak
Yummykarak
6 years ago

I am so sorry for them, my deepest condolences. May Allah bring them peace and justice. It is shameful the way things have been carried out on this case and for that I am also sorry.

Nicolina Kamenou
Nicolina Kamenou
6 years ago

Justice needs to be served. People need to feel that there is a proper and fair judicial system in Qatar. It is appalling that 3 years on, the families have to deal with so much inefficiency and delay after delay. Nothing will take away their pain, but there is a need for some sort of closure. Please keep adding comments and keep on the pressure.

KK
KK
6 years ago

Hopelessness starts at home.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

Justice has a passport here, lack of justice occurring too often ….so sorry for the families.

Peter Pickle
Peter Pickle
6 years ago

Very depressing.

Bling
Bling
6 years ago

sad…

kubaru
kubaru
6 years ago

I pray for you. I remember.

May El Karadawy
May El Karadawy
6 years ago

This is by far the most heartbreaking thing i have ever read…my prayers, thoughts and heart go out for you and your beloved ones who will always live inside your hearts and souls. Dont blame yourselves for the faults of others….this is God’s will and inshaa Allah you will all be rewarded for your patience and the enormous pain you are going though…inshaa Allah we will all be united soon in Paradise…God bless you all

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