Texas A&M cancels classes after staffer killed in laboratory accident

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.

He concluded:

“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.”

Afternoon evacuation

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:

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:

https://twitter.com/ali_mdarwish/status/471595338445234176

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.

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