A night-time fire in a shopping centre in the Syrian capital, Damascus, has killed at least 11 people, the Interior Ministry said.
Authorities have said this is one of the deadliest blazes in recent years.
According to the Director of Civil Defence, Ahmad Abbas, many of those killed on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, included security guards or staff who were on duty overnight in the six-storey building. However, the cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
“Eleven people have died as a result of the fire in the La Mirada Mall, and two people have been rescued.”The interior Ministry
The Ministry also noted that the fire caused “extensive material damage.” The fire ripped through stores that sold clothes, leather goods and cosmetics, many of which were highly flammable.
“Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the blaze.”The interior Ministry
Incidents of fire have been reported frequently in the Syrian capital, with some, caused by electrical short-circuits, and others by unsafe heating methods.
One of the witnesses, Hani, 52, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said the fire broke out at approximately 3 am (01:00 GMT).
“The fire started on the top floor and started to spread quickly to other levels.”One of the witnesses, Hani
‘My livelihood is gone’
The Director of Civil Defence, Abbas, disclosed that at least 20 fire engines helped to drench the blaze.
“It took about four hours for us to bring the fire under control,” says Abbas, adding that the victims died either of suffocation or of severe burns.
“They were all guards working at the mall, or workers on duty.”Director of Civil Defence, Ahmad Abbas
Mohammad Aboulreesh, from the Hospital of Damascus, said they received seven corpses that had been badly burned and were yet to be identified, according to a local news agency.
A correspondent for a local news agency averred fire engines were stationed outside the burnt frontage of the shopping mall, a place where dozens of businesses had been destroyed.
The fire department in Damascus told reporters, on the basis of anonymity, that “We have asked everyone to stay away from the area to facilitate civil defence operations.” According to the fire department, they did not have full rights to speak on the incident.
Despite the security barricade, dozens flocked to the scene, including business owners who rushed to check on their shops.
Reports also suggested that one of the shop owners collapsed when he saw the damage.
“My livelihood is gone … my money is gone,” he wailed.
The fire comes a week after there was a blast in a hospital in Syria’s second-largest city of Aleppo. The blast killed three people as a result of a short-circuit, officials said.
In September last year (2021), Syria’s local news agency reported that a firefighter died and two civilians sustained injuries in a blaze that destroyed a fabric warehouse in the Old City of Damascus.