NZ pays tribute to Qatar mall blaze victims

Hundreds gather for memorial service for New Zealand triplets killed in Villagio Mall blaze
NZ pays tribute to Qatar mall blaze victims
Family and friends farewell triplets Lillie, Willsher and Jackson Weekes at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul on June 8, 2012 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 08 Jun 2012 10:25 AM

Hundreds of people gathered on Friday for a memorial service for the New Zealand triplets who died in a Qatar shopping centre blaze last month.

The two-year-old toddlers were in a nursery in the Villagio Mall in Doha when the fire broke out killing 19 people, mostly children.

A private burial for Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes took place after the public service in New Zealand's capital Wellington.

Parents Martin and Jane Weekes said the light and excitement their "three little monkeys" brought to their lives would be irreplaceable.

"They were three special yet very different little people, all from the same recipe. Each different and so special in their own way," they said at the service according to New Zealand media reports.

The blaze at the Villaggio centre claimed the lives of 13 children, four teachers and two civil defence officials.

The fire was believed to have started at the centre's Gympanzee nursery where the triplets had been playing.

Qatar's minister of state for interior affairs, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani, has promised a full investigation into the cause of the tragedy.

A committee has also been set up to examine the minimum safety requirements in buildings such as shopping malls.

The victims of the fire also included people from Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Benin and Arab countries not including Qatar.

Opened in 2006, Villaggio was named one of the world’s most luxurious malls by Forbes magazine in 2008. The centre features 220 retail, entertainment and dining outlets.

Up to 180 civil defence personnel were said to be involved in extinguishing the blaze and rescue efforts.

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