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This post has been updated to reflect that flooding is widespread in Qatar following today’s rain

Photos by Lesley Walker and Nada Badawi

Heavy downpours across Doha have caused two popular malls in Qatar to leak, and another to shut down completely.

Both Villaggio Mall and Landmark Malls witnessed indoor rain today.

At Villaggio this afternoon, Doha News observed pieces of the ceiling collapsing in front of Patrice salon, as well as flooding near Virgin Megastore, causing its closure.

Part of Khulood Pharmacy also began leaking, and sections of the floor near Paul and Boots Pharmacy were closed off after flooding.

Gondolania closed at Villaggio Mall

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Gondolania closed at Villaggio Mall

Other stores that were affected by leaks included H&M and Zara, as well as entertainment zone Gondolania.

Additionally, the entire VIP section was dark and employees could be seen mopping up over there. “Too much rain water,” one guard told Doha News.

Alarms could be heard going off intermittently, and some staff were seen lined up at Carrefour to buy mops.

Despite store closures, many shoppers remained in the mall. Some tried to take photos of the leaks, but were stopped by security guards.

The Peninsula reports that Landmark Mall has also been leaking:

Both malls have had rain troubles in the past.

Meanwhile, Dar Al Salaam mall in Abu Hamour closed this afternoon. An official there told Doha News she hoped the shops would reopen later today, but could not give a time frame.

Shops at Barwa Village have also been leaking, according to residents there.

Road flooding

Qatar forecasters had warned of thundershowers all week, and several government authorities have been coordinating to ward off flooding on the roads.

However, localized flooding was seen on main routes including Al Waab St. and Al Bustan St. this afternoon.

Meanwhile, many side streets in residential areas including Onaiza, Al Azizya, Al Maamoura, Al Messila, Muaither, Barwa City and Najma became waterlogged.

Roads in the Industrial Area were badly flooded too, some residents reported.

Emergency vehicles were deployed on major routes to remove some of the standing water.

And commuters have been sharing photos and videos of flooding across the country:

This afternoon, the Ministry of Interior warned motorists to drive cautiously through the downpours.

It advised slowing down, avoiding sudden breaking and using indicators (and not hazard lights).

Has the rain affected your Saturday? Thoughts?

Villaggio fire saga to continue after prosecutor lodges appeal

Qatar’s general prosecutor has appealed a court verdict that largely exonerated five people convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a deadly 2012 fire.

That means the legal battle to find someone responsible for the deaths of 19 people at Villaggio mall will continue. However, the case will not return to the Court of Appeal until after the summer break, a court administrator told Doha News.

Photos of the Villaggio vigil in 2012

Four years ago today, a terrible fire claimed the lives of 19 people, including 13 children, four nursery employees and two firefighters at Villaggio Mall.

The day after, Qataris and expats from all walks of life flocked to Aspire Park to extend their condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and mourn as one community.

Today, things are different. Given the high turnover rate of residents here, many have forgotten (or never known about) the fire. The legal battle to hold someone responsible for the fire is largely over, and the mall is busier than ever.

But the tragedy lives on in the memory of some longtime residents:

Though many families are no longer publicly speaking about their loss as part of a settlement deal reached with the government, some said they will continue to fight for justice.

Others, including Jane and Martin Weekes, whose triplets died in the fire, said today they simply want to express gratitude for the support they’ve received all these years.

In a post on the Lillie, Jackson & Willsher Weekes memorial Facebook page, the couple quoted Sigmund Freud as saying, “…no matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else. And actually this is how it should be.”

Thoughts?


For an in-depth understanding of the Villaggio fire and its aftermath, download our 57-page ebook here.


Last year, some family members of the victims wrote letters to their lost ones, sharing some of the complex emotions they’ve felt since the day their lives changed forever. Read them 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.