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Monday, March 8, 2021

Report: Four men charged with negligence in deadly Qatar gas blast

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The aftermath of a gas explosion that killed 11 people on Feb. 27, 2014 in Duhail.
The aftermath of a gas explosion that killed 11 people on Feb. 27, 2014 in Duhail.

With reporting from Ankita Menon and Nada Badawi

Qatar’s Public Prosecutor’s office is charging four men with negligence following a gas blast that killed 11 people in February, according to local media reports.

The explosion took place at a Turkish restaurant inside of a petrol station complex on Feb. 27, injuring 35 others and destroying several cars and restaurants.

An article in Al Raya states that one of the men on trial is a supervisor for Qatar Gas (an expat from Egypt), one is a supervisor for Woqod (an Indian expat) and two others are Turkish employees who worked for Istanbul Restaurant, where the blast originated.

Qatar Gas is a local company that distributes cooking gas, and is not affiliated with Qatar Petroleum subsidiary QatarGas.

Nobody was inside of the Turkish restaurant at the time of the accident, and the majority of those killed and injured were eating at the nearby Tasty eatery.

All the defendants remain in jail as the case gets underway, the Arabic daily reports. Gulf Times translates:

“The four persons were charged with negligence in undertaking their work duties, which caused the loss of the lives, severe injury to many, risked the safety of others and caused undue destruction of the material assets of others.”

Finding fault

Last month, a government inquiry into the deadly accident concluded that the blast was caused by a pizza oven that was not properly turned off. The subsequent leaking liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which is supplied by Woqod, was apparently ignited by the electrical current in the restaurant’s refrigerator, officials said at the time.

A fire expert from the Ministry of Interior testified to these findings.

According to the prosecutor, missteps made by each defendant include:

  • The Woqod supervisor failed to tell the company’s distribution department to stop the restaurant’s gas supply as maintenance work was carried out there;
  • The Qatar Gas supervisor connected the restaurant’s new gas line without seeking a safety compliance certificate;
  • The restaurant’s baker failed to turn off the gas valve of the oven; and
  • The restaurant’s accountant did not check to make sure all the gas valves in the restaurant were securely closed.

Representatives of Woqod, Qatar Gas, Istanbul Restaurant and the Turkish embassy could not immediately be reached for comment on the case. It is not clear when the next first court hearing will be held.

Petrol station remains closed

Meanwhile, the Q-Mart Petrol Station near the blast, as well as the surrounding shops and restaurants, remain closed.

QMart Petrol State

A manager at Al Majlis restaurant told Doha News that the station has not been reconnected with water or electricity, and that the municipality has been conducting rigorous safety tests. He added that his shop is undergoing renovations to prepare for an eventual reopening, but that he doesn’t know when that will be.

Thoughts?

Note: This article has been corrected to reflect the petrol station has not reopened, and that the name of the eatery affected in the blast was Tasty.

45 COMMENTS

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koko
koko
6 years ago

So all of these poor expats are still in prison waiting on their trial date, which was clearly an accident, yet, the GUILTY culprits of the Villagio fire are free to travel abroad and enjoy their high life… there is an injustice here somewhere.. poor vs wealthy or unconnected vs connected???

Saffa
Saffa
6 years ago
Reply to  koko

An accident is defined as an event which cannot be foreseen and which is not preventable. In this case, if the valve was left partially open as is said, then it was not an accident as it COULD have been prevented by someone checking to make sure it was properly closed. Someone was RESPONSIBLE for checking the closure of the valve, and APPARENTLY did not do so, and is therefore being held ACCOUNTABLE for not checking.

Boy_08
Boy_08
6 years ago
Reply to  Saffa

If the valve was left open as reported then the fire would have kept burning wouldn’t it? Then there would be no accumulation of gas, and no explosion???

Saffa
Saffa
6 years ago
Reply to  Boy_08

Not necessarily, a gas fire needs a certain pressure to maintain a flame, if turned down enough but not closed, the flame can gutter out but gas can still flow. Also as they filled the tank, the pumping pressure could have caused more gas to flow. For LPG to become explosive it needs to get to a concentration of about 5% per volume (if I recall correctly)

koko
koko
6 years ago
Reply to  Saffa

So blocking off exit doors with locks and chains, not getting the right permit to have a nursery, no training for security staff, etc.. etc..doesn’t leave ppl accountable… but in my world it actually is a verdict of negligence, incompetence and ACCOUNTABILITY…

Saffa
Saffa
6 years ago
Reply to  koko

“So all of these poor expats are still in prison waiting on their trial date, which was clearly an accident” my reply was to this. It was clearly not an accident.

“a verdict of negligence, incompetence and ACCOUNTABILITY” which also clearly makes it not an accident. And I’m pretty sure that the verdict handed down by the court was that it was not an accident and that the responsible parties were found to be both responsible and accountable. That people have not yet been brought to book for it (i.e. HELD accountable) is a matter of law enforcement (of which we know there is very little in this country unless you are an expat), which has very little to do with the Judiciary and everything to do with the law enforcement system.

Please try and curb the outrage and think it through. I am both a responsible party and accountable party in what I do professionally. I have to make sure people do what they must do to ensure the safety of others and what is being done, and I will be held accountable if I do not do it properly and something goes wrong, and I will ALSO be held accountable if, despite all the checking and planning, something does go wrong until I can demonstrate, suitably to satisfy a court, that I have done, and thought of, everything in my power to make sure nothing could go wrong.

Firas Zirie
6 years ago

The hammer of justice will surely fall quickly on the accused should they be found guilty. It’s not like they have an ambassador’s post in Europe that they can lay low at indefinitely.

On a related note, the restaurant accountant is in charge of making sure the gas valves are closed? That makes little sense to me.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

That’s what I thought, the accountant? If that is part of his job then surely the Qatari sponsor should be in jail as well for recruiting incomptent people and giving them jobs they are unqualifed for.

Smile
Smile
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Based on my experience at different restaurants, i think the so call accountant are not really accountant they are restaurant supervisor who near restaurant exit door collect payment from customers, direct staff to serve next customer in line food and make sure the restourant environment is serene for customers. They the restaurant general supervisor not pure acountant i think.

DADAC
DADAC
6 years ago
Reply to  Smile

@disqus_A5s0oPZKBD:disqus, that’s something… not to disrespect nor contest what you are saying… the thing is… are these guys “accountant” in profession (study, experience and work permit) but given the task as restaurant supervisors? or vice versa?

I believe everybody’s concern is, that guy (accountant and/or manager) competent to on what he is doing? Or he just have to do it because someone above the ranks told him to do so…

Overall, may he be an accountant or supervisor, someone up there is to be held liable…

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
6 years ago
Reply to  DADAC

The “accountant” is probably the real “owner”, the “Qatari sponsor” probably gets paid by this guy… Things here are rarely what they seem…

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

He may have been formally in charge of running a check list to ensure safety of the place. Very typical to have someone not running the function to run a safety check list. He may have failed to do so.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Is this common in Qatar? I assume that the logic is to have an outsider do it so that they aren’t beholden to anyone, have a neutral pair of eyes, etc?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

I know you are required to do so, how much this is applied I’m not sure. I know the ground supervisiors in famous chains like McD and KFC are required to make sure all gas outlets are off, oil waste goes into the right container, staff punched their cards, bathrooms cleaned, lights out and doors locked and alarms on…

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Okay, and that duty for that night may have fallen upon the ‘accountant’ – that makes sense.

Firas Zirie
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Checklist? Safety? At a little gas station Turkish eatery in Doha? Surely you jest.

This is one of the things that definitely should be implemented, but I seriously doubt it is currently being done anywhere short of the largest of establishments.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

the restaurant was not actually a little turkish eatery as you put it, it’s a very large restaurant and part of a very famous chain, probably one of the most succesful in Doha.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

We all remember how the people found guilty following deaths in a fire were promptly locked up in jail.

Oh, hold on…

reddevil
reddevil
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

So they shouldn’t take any action?

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  reddevil

They did take action.
A court found them GUILTY.
And then what…?

Oh, oops. You were probably referring to expats who have been locked up pending a future trial, rather than those people who did go to court and who were found guilty and who still haven’t spent a day behind bars.

Susha Soman
Susha Soman
6 years ago

The restaurant’s accountant did not check to make sure all the gas valves in the restaurant were securely closed.
Genuine question. How is an accountant responsible for closing gas valves? Doesn’t add up.

Bright Thomas
Bright Thomas
6 years ago

Was there a legal document (aka Job Description) for the accountant that said – close gas valves? Then again people do much more than what they are recruited for….hmmm…

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago
Reply to  Bright Thomas

Probably one of those contracts that says “…and any other duties to which your supervisor assigns you…”, which is how you get dental hygienists mopping floors at QU.

DADAC
DADAC
6 years ago

lols

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
6 years ago

Don’t all job descriptions have that? 🙂

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

I don’t know which countries you’ve worked in, but in my experience they are not at all usual, and they set off great big alarm bells. I only ever saw them in the GCC. Would you sign a contract that had such vague descriptions, or would you question the HR and managerial abilities of a company that felt them necessary? In my circle, if a sample contract has something like that written in it, that is the point where you finish the interview and say “Thank you for your time, I wish you all the best in your search for a candidate” and get out of there as fast as you can as it is not the sort of place you want to be associated with.

Now, I have seen, and can accept, “…any other duties within the usual scope of an accountant…or by mutual consent” or wording to that affect, but the GCC contracts were worded in such a way that you could force a brain surgeon to become a house painter.

Okay, the spousal unit has just told me that they they are used in some US states with weaker than usual labour protections, though I have never seen one.

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
6 years ago

I thought there was a law that didn’t allow gas in restaurants near petrol stations, so surely there is a restaurant owner and government inspector culpable? Or maybe the law was passed after this tragedy? With so many entities, I wonder who will shirking the responsibility of paying blood money to these innocent victims? The accountant thing is odd, maybe he was last to leave the night before??

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago

As I understand, it was passed immediately after this incident.

Shabina921
Shabina921
6 years ago

That law was passed after the Villaggio fire, in 2012.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

Thank you. Okay then, that raises some good questios.

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
6 years ago

So Woqod are guilty of breaking the law for installing a tank and subsequently filling it when in a location not permitted? Seems that those responsible are at the top of the chain. There should never have been a valve there to leave open or maintain poorly.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
6 years ago

Like everyone else, I understand three of these, but the accountant?? Would love, just love, to see his or her job description.

Smile
Smile
6 years ago

Ivan, Based on my experience at different restaurants, i think the so call accountant are not really accountant they are restaurant supervisor who near restaurant exit door collect payment from customers, direct staff to serve next customer in line food and make sure the restourant environment is serene for customers. They the restaurant general supervisor not pure acountant i think.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

By accountant I assume they just mean ‘man who stands at the till’

BigDaddyDK
BigDaddyDK
6 years ago

I’m curious exactly what is meant by “accountant.” Was this just the person who emptied the till and counted the money, or a bona fide accountant who manages receipts, accounts, etc.? Titles can be used creatively to mean a lot of things. For example, one can be a “landscape and aesthetics engineer” and that could just mean one digs holes, plants things, and mows grass versus actually doing design and planning work worthy of the term “engineer.” Reminds me of how the term VIP is thrown around in this country, to the point that the designation VVIP is now used to denote someone who actually has some level of clout or significance.

DADAC
DADAC
6 years ago

How about the Restaurant Manager? He is supposed to make sure all is safe and sound before he leaves.. ohhh ohhh… sorry, he must have left early (as usual… ooooops no offense to other managers here)… and let the accountant stay to close-out the sales for the day and do his manager’s job. Now you are in trouble Mr. Accountant… (not being funny about your fate… but it only sends a message to all… stop doing your manager’s work… stop thinking of promotion… now you know where you might end up!)

Smile
Smile
6 years ago
Reply to  DADAC

Based on my experience at different restaurants, i think the so call accountant are not really accountant they are restaurant supervisor or Restaurant Manager) who near restaurant exit door collect payment from customers, direct staff to serve next customer in line food and make sure the restourant environment is serene for customers. They are restaurant general supervisor not pure acountant i think.

DADAC
DADAC
6 years ago
Reply to  Smile

@disqus_A5s0oPZKBD:disqus that is something… not to disrespect nor contest what you are saying… the thing is… are these guys “accountant” in profession (study, experience and work permit) but given the task as restaurant supervisors? or vice versa?

I believe everybody’s concern is, that guy (accountant and/or manager) competent to on what he is doing? Or he just have to do it because someone above the ranks told him to do so…

Overall, may he be an accountant or supervisor, someone up there is to be held liable…

PlanetCitizen
PlanetCitizen
6 years ago

Please enlighten me, why is an Accountant held responsible to check the Gas Valves!!!!

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  PlanetCitizen

The accountant is the restaurant’s supervisior and is alsois responsible of running the final safety checklist for the day, which includes checking if the cooks have turned of the gas valve mains. englightened much?

PlanetCitizen
PlanetCitizen
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

So much for one person doing it all….why don’t they let him do the dishes as well.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Don’t be crazy… most accountants don’t even know what a valve is, nor should they!! The same way that a gas technician wouldn’t know what a balance sheet was. Come on, surely you understand that.

Saffa
Saffa
6 years ago
Reply to  PlanetCitizen

Designated Responsible Person.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
6 years ago

Really?! Charging a baker, and an accountant?! REALLY?!?! This is so insane it doesn’t seem possible. Shall we add more “victims” to the list impacted by this event?

Net-guy
Net-guy
6 years ago

Hmm, do the laws here apply equally, or is there the appearence that residents are treated differently than citizens…

with the logic listed above, how about this one….

would it be qatar’s fault, for providing the gas to go into the cannister,
that was delivered by Woqod that was,
connected to a new gas line without checking the safety valve by Qatar Gas ,
and wasnt properly turned off on the stove by the baker,
and was not checked by the accountant…

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