Qatar: 11 killed in fire at migrant labour accommodation

Qatar: 11 killed in fire at migrant labour accommodation
2 min read
03 June, 2016
Eleven people were killed in a fire that broke out at a complex housing migrant labourers, while another 12 were hospitalised, authorities said Thursday.
Migrant labourers often live in crowded and substandard housing [AFP]

Eleven people were killed in a fire that broke out in housing for migrant labourers working on a tourism project in Qatar, authorities said late Thursday.

The fire is likely to intensify scrutiny of conditions for low-wage guest workers in the wealthy Gulf nation, which is being transformed by billions of dollars' worth of construction projects as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticised Qatar's treatment of foreign workers, who are effectively bound to their employer under a sponsorship system that activists say leaves employees open to abuse.

The Gulf emirate has enacted some labour reforms and plans to implement others, but many workers still sleep in crowded, substandard housing.

The Interior Ministry said on Twitter that the fire erupted late Wednesday in housing used by one of the companies working on the Salwa tourism project in the south of the country. It said that 12 people were hospitalised.

The ministry did not provide details on the identities of the victims.

Many migrant workers in Qatar come from South Asian countries including India and Nepal, as well as parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

The fire comes two months after another blaze broke out at an $825 million mall under construction near a stadium where Qatar plans to host part of the 2022 soccer tournament.

Some 14,000 laborers and staff had to be evacuated in that fire, though there were no reported injuries.

Wednesday's fire was believed to be the deadliest in Qatar since a 2012 blaze at the high-end Villaggio shopping mall in the capital, Doha, which killed 19 people, including 13 children, many of them foreigners.