WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Prime Minister John Key and others offered condolences Tuesday to the New Zealand parents whose 2-year-old triplets were among the 13 children killed in a fire in a shopping mall in Qatar.
New Zealand media on Tuesday identified the triplets as Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes. Their parents, Jane and Martin Weekes, previously lived in Wellington.
"Our daughter rang. What can you say? It's absolutely devastating," the children's grandmother, Jo Turner, told Fairfax Media.
In all, 19 people died in the fire that broke out late Monday morning in Villaggio mall in the capital Doha. At least some of the victims died as rescuers struggled to reach a child care center at the mall, according to Qatar's Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Sheik Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani.
"Obviously it's a very tragic day for that family and my thoughts are with them during this difficult time," Key told reporters.
"The pain of their loss is unimaginable," Labour Party leader David Shearer said in a statement.
Turner said her daughter had lived in Qatar for about five years, although she had returned to New Zealand to give birth to the triplets.
"They were everything to her. She was a great mum. She was a hands-on mum," Turner told Fairfax. "I didn't push her for any information. She just told us what she needed to tell us. It was just that 'Our babies, they died in a fire at the day care center.'"
According to Martin Weekes' profile on networking site LinkedIn, he works as a senior adviser at Qatar Media Services and was a former chief executive of Auckland's Eden Park sports stadium. Eden Park Trust spokeswoman Tracy Morgan confirmed that in the late 1990s, Weekes headed the trust that oversees the stadium.