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

Villaggio vigil, 2012

Omar Chatriwala

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

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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:


Villaggio fire ebook cover

Doha News

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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