With reporting from Peter Kovessy and Chantelle D’mello
One man has died in a laboratory explosion at Texas A&M University at Qatar today, officials have confirmed. The school staffer, who was not named in a statement released this evening, is reportedly survived by his wife and children.
In a statement, TAMUQ Dean and CEO Dr. Mark Weichold said:
“It is with great regret that I announce that a member of the Aggie family passed away today while working in a laboratory in the Texas A&M Engineering Building.
This is an unspeakable tragedy, and words cannot convey my condolences and compassion for his family, friends and colleagues. All of us share their grief.
The staff member’s family has been notified, and Texas A&M at Qatar is working closely with Qatar Foundation and Qatar government officials to determine the cause of today’s incident.”
Weichold added that classes will be canceled tomorrow, May 29, to give the community a chance to grieve, and will resume on Sunday, June 1.
However, students are still welcome on campus, and the building will be open as usual. Employees are still required to report to work.
“As our community copes with this loss, Texas A&M at Qatar is coordinating counseling for employees and students. There will be no further comment as Texas A&M at Qatar works closely with Qatar Foundation and government to determine the cause of today’s incident.”
Around 1pm today, students, staff and visitors at TAMUQ were told to stay away from the school’s engineering building following an incident that caused injuries.
In its first tweet on the matter, TAMUQ said:
AggieALERT: Texas A&M Engineering Building is closed because of an emergency. Please stay away from the building. Updates will follow.
— Texas A&M at Qatar (@TAMUQ) May 28, 2014
Two students inside the school at the time told Doha News separately that they heard a fire alarm go off, and were evacuated from the building.
When reached by phone, a staffer inside of TAMUQ’s main building said, “The building has been evacuated so it is almost impossible to get a hold of someone.”
In a statement sent to Doha News, TAMUQ said:
“An accident with an injury has occurred. Emergency services have responded. Classes are suspended for the rest of the day. Although there is no ongoing danger or threat, the building remains closed.”
Several students said a lab explosion may have been involved:
TAMU-Q alerts asking people to stay away from the building. Alleged reports of serious lab incident and possible lab explosion. @dohanews
— The Daily Q (@yourtdq) May 28, 2014
As of 2pm, about an hour after the incident, TAMUQ remains cordoned off to the public. Staff have been released for the day, and the area is full of security and ambulance vehicles.
Near 3pm, TAMUQ’s emergency message board told students and staff that the building will be closed until further notice, and they would be contacted about collecting their belongings.
Speaking to Doha News, a student said he was next to TAMUQ’s laboratory when he heard a popping sound. He went to investigate and observed a lab coordinator unconscious on the floor, with blood in the area.
The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was several minutes before police were called and medical care arrived.
Some chemical engineering students must be fiddling with hydrogen gas…
someone died, enjoy the hahas in your comment.
Did I wrote hahas in my comment? I was assuming on first instant that it was due to hydrogen gas as it can explode under certain condition. Anyway… If the deceased is a muslim… إن لله وإن إليه راجعون and if the deceased is not a muslim, I hope the family can be patient in facing the unexpected loss.
A life is lost and this is your best comment ?
It was a PET research lab 🙁
And you point being?
Polyethylene Terephtalate… A kind of resin
Polyethylene Terephthalate… A kind of resin. Strange this thing can cause explosion as it is already a finished product. Unless it broke down on being heated up.
It’s a typo. He/She meant PETE (Petroleum Engineering)
I politely request this comment either be removed or taken with a grain of salt, as all of this is conjecture and does nothing but sensationalize the situation.
There’s nothing funny about what happened today and your attempts at humor are totally out of line. There were no students in the lab. He is only casualty. Pretty much all your info is wrong.
True, RIP in piece
sir…please i request you to give correct piece of info…please act as matured and grown up person…its a sensitive topic
Your fake screen name based on a really dodgy real person is spot on for your character. Hopefully you’ve now had your attention fix for the week.
Innalilah wa inna ilahi rajihoon
Appears from comments that yet again that life is considered cheap in Qatar. Seatbelts on your kids would be a start to acknowledging that life is not cheap…As far as this gentlemen may he rest in peace and his family be taken care of…
Life in Qatar is considered cheap based on what or compared to where? Seat-belts are something that people are starting slowly to adjust to using, just like elsewhere. According to some of my friends from Canada, they recall how 15-30 years ago, their parents didn’t make them wear seat belts, not because they were bad parents, but because they still have not gotten used to that idea.
I know it seems like such an obvious good idea to you and me, but to those who have grown up not seeing any adults use them, it’s still a novel concept. Let me add that there seems to be this odd urban legend among some Qataris and others (don’t know how far spread) that seat belts cause more death than save lives because you may end up trapped by one in a burning car. Give it 5-10 years and then you should see a big change.
My grandmother in the States always thought the seat belt would trap her in the car, so she never used them. I never wore them as a kid (in the 70’s) and I bet most of us over 40 never wore them as kids either. Our parents weren’t horrible, just didn’t know better. We had a ton of marketing campaigns to teach Americans to use seat belts. It takes time….
Okaaaaaayyy……forget seat belts …next time when a nepali laborer dies, make sure you don’t speak like chicken was killed …I saw it in front of my eyes….when 4 nepalis died when a wall fell on them during construction….don’t take it so light next time…they are human beings tooo….
I have no idea, nor do I really care, why you think I care less for the death of laborers than for others.
However, in case you hadn’t noticed, when a famous person, say Kim Kardashian, goes on a vacation, that gets more coverage in the press than when a poor person dies because they couldn’t afford to buy medicine!
Very true. Same with drink driving in the west, you will find very few people under the age of 45 who would consider doing it, but the older generation have a different attitude and believe it does not affect their driving. It took many years, many campains and years of police enforcemnt for things to change. (Not it carries a social stigma).
However police enforcement of traffice offences would be a good start here……
Based on the comments in this thread which have now been deleted. Based on the terrible safety record of workers and treatment after death including no coronial inquiry. Based on the treatment of the villagio convicted. Based on no governance or enforcement of safety in industry. Based on no education and enforcement on the roads. Based on the countless reports from investigations by Amnesty, the UN, ITCU etc etc
Your comments on seat belts are very compelling though 🙂
Seatbelt use didn’t become a cultural tradition in the U.S. until laws were passed and enforced, during two distinct periods, and even after years of public educatoin and enforcement, young men in the 18-30 age bracket in rural areas still don’t wear them. Especially truck drivers.
Amazes me people always refer to the US as some sort of bastion of progress when referring to Western/developed countries when in fact they are often following the pack. Australia had seat belts in cars from the 1970s and Volvo had them in their cars in the 1950s! How long does it take people to learn? Strict enforcement combined with ongoing education is the only option. It amazes me some people still don’t appreciate the benefits? How silly are they or is this some sort of “macho” idiocy?
Not a place for this argument. This was an accident that could’ve happened anywhere. Just extremely unfortunate.
Accidents almost always happen because of a failure to stick to protocol.
I actually work in a Research lab in Cornell, and believe me, they are sticklers with regards to safety precautions. We have regular trainings and updates on safety in the labs and strict protocols in place. I’m pretty certain that the same could be said of Texas A&M.
Thanks for posting this hawkeye31. I was wondering when this would come up. In response to one of the comments that life in Qatar is cheap- well this is an American University and should thus follow whatever Health and Safety Occupational procedures that it’s American campus enjoys?
So, if and when these H&SO were not implemented- who is really to blame? The country that welcomes and trusts this establishment and who have really only begun to invest (quite heavily /generously in education)? Or the mother University in the USA? Did this University implant (sell) part of what they thought was important but skip the safety procedures because to them life in Qatar doesn’t matter as much?
Sorry, but that is the way I see it…
I’m even angrier because there is much talk of witnesses being counselled and consoled. Sympathies are extended to the family. I’m wondering whether the young wife and young children this poor man left behind could do with more than the Universities ‘sympathies’?
Losing their father and their breadwinner spells disaster for the dependents left behind. Does this mean they will be forced to return to their homeland? Who will now take care of them?
Accidents happen but a life lost is always sad. RIP…