2 Filipinos killed in Qatar blast
MANILA, Philippines—Two Filipinos were killed and two others were injured in a gas explosion at a Turkish restaurant near a filling station in Qatar’s capital Doha on Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Friday.
Initial indications suggested a burst natural gas tank atop a Turkish restaurant was to blame for the blast, which happened shortly after 10 a.m. near the popular Landmark Mall shopping center in the capital.
DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said in a press conference that the families of the Filipinos who died as well as those of the survivors who were recovering in a local hospital have been informed of the fate of their loved ones.
“They are now in stable condition,” Hernandez said, referring to the two survivors who sustained head injuries and were confined at Hamad General Hospital.
At total of 12 people were killed and 31 were injured, some seriously, in the explosion.
Reports from Qatar said that the Filipino victims were merchandisers at a grocery store inside a mall adjacent to the Istanbul Restaurant, where the explosion originated.
Hernandez said the Philippine Embassy officials have been assured by the four Filipinos’ employers that they will shoulder all expenses related to the treatment of the injured or the repatriation of the remains. The family of one of the fatalities will also receive death insurance and other benefits from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
The force of the explosion caused the partial collapse of the Istanbul Restaurant and sent shrapnel flying as far as 50 meters away, authorities said. Officials are treating the explosion as an accident, though it is unclear what ignited the tank.
The 12 people reported killed were all Asian or Arab, said Maj. Gen. Saad al-Khulaifi, who heads the country’s police force. He did not give further details on their identities or nationalities.
He said authorities would conduct a full and transparent investigation.
The civil defense director of operations, Hamid al-Duhaimi, said four people were found dead at the scene and the others died on their way to the hospital.
Alexandra Permuy, 25, a graduate student from Miami who lives nearby, was startled awake by the explosion.
“At first I thought it was just thunder … but when I looked out the window there was not a cloud in the sky,” Permuy said.
The restaurant had recently opened following renovations and is situated among a strip of eateries that get particularly busy late at night, she said.
Hamad Medical Corp., which manages eight hospitals and the national ambulance service, put out a call for blood donations on social media shortly after the blast happened.
Qatar is a small, wealthy Gulf Arab state with abundant reserves of natural gas that will host the 2022 World Cup.
The member state of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is generally safe, with little violent crime or civil unrest. Concerns have been raised about building safety.
A May 2012 fire in the Villaggio Mall killed 19 people, including 13 children at a day-care center inside. Investigators later blamed faulty wiring for the blaze. With a report from AP
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