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.”
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.
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.
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.