Doha: Explosion at Qatar Restaurant, Blamed on Gas, Kills 12

Image: Doha: Explosion at Qatar Restaurant, Blamed on Gas, Kills 12

Friday, 28 Feb 2014 02:59 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A suspected gas cylinder explosion in a Doha, Qatar, restaurant Thursday killed at least 12 people and injured dozens more.

The incident happened over lunchtime at the Istanbul restaurant, a Turkish food establishment near the Landmark Mall complex.

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"It was a very big blast," Major General Saad bin Jassim al-Khalifi, Qatar's head of public security, told Al Jazeera. "It blew away cars and shrapnel was scattered 50 meters to 100 meters away."

The explosion is being treated as an accident.

Investigators tentatively believe that a gas tank exploded, causing a fire in part of the building that collapsed, according to Al Jazeera.

Broken chunks of masonry, metal and shattered glass was thrown outside the restaurant, Reuters reported. Nearby vehicles appeared to be damaged by the explosion.

The explosion was the worst in the region since 19 foreign nationals, including 13 children, were killed by a fire at a shopping mall in Qatar in May 2012.

Most of the 2 million people living in Qatar are foreigners among the estimated 250,000 Qatari nationals. The Washington Post in 2013 reported that the many of the foreigners, usually from South Asia, make up the country's work force, earning more money from the gas-rich country than they could make in their home countries.

Laborers and rights groups have charged Qatar with alleged human rights abuses against the foreign workers, stating the workers said employers would take their passports once they arrived, threaten them with fines and salary reductions for equipment damage or sick days, and force them to work 12- to 15-hour days, wrote the Washington Post.

Workers have complained, according to the Post, of toiling in temperatures of 105 degrees while describing "slave-like" work conditions, but were afraid to complain for fear of being fired and having nowhere to go.

Qatar is the richest country per capita on Earth and Doha is its fastest developing city. The country will host the World Cup, the world's premiere soccer tournament, in 2022, the first such event ever for a Persian Gulf country.

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