Camilo Travesedo, the father of the three Spanish brothers who died in a fire in a Doha shopping mall, told Efe Tuesday that firefighters took far too long to get the children out of the burning complex.
Fire-rescue personnel "took an hour and a half to get them out, and when they did most of them were dead," Travesedo said.
Travesedo's statement coincides with the testimony of witnesses who reported delays in evacuating the daycare center, where his children, ages 7, 5 and 2, died.
Travesedo said he feels "devastated" after Monday's tragedy at the upscale Villaggio Mall where a total of 19 people, including his boys and a 7-year-old Spanish girl, lost their lives.
"Our kids were in a small enclosure for playing games on the first floor when the fire broke out. They didn't let us go in to get the children, the place filled up with smoke and neither the firefighters nor emergency management personnel were able to find them," Travesedo, who works in the OHL construction company and has lived 3 1/2 years in Qatar, said.
Travesedo said he hopes to send the bodies back to Spain on Thursday.
The father of the three little boys is the works supervisor of a hospital that OHL is building in Doha, after the group won a contract in 2008 for its design, construction and maintenance.
Travesedo doesn't know "if there was negligence" during the rescue operation, but some witnesses and the Qatar authorities themselves have said that the firefighters were unaware of the existence of the daycare center, which slowed down the attempted rescue even more.
Following this tragedy, two more fires broke out in Doha on Tuesday but no victims were reported - one was at the Qatar Academy for Aviation Sciences, and the other at the Fatima bint al Walid primary school on the outskirts of the capital where the flames sowed panic among the students.
The cause of these two fires could have been short circuits.
Qatari firefighters continue their investigations to determine the origin of the tragedy at the Villaggio Mall.
The parents of the children had left them at the daycare center, given that there was no school on Monday in Doha.
The Spanish community in Qatar is made up of a little more than 500 people, of whom a good portion are businessmen or employees of multinational companies.