A deadly fire tears apart a shopping center in the Syrian capital | News

Most of those who died were security guards or staff who worked nights at the La Mirada shopping center in Damascus.

An overnight fire at a shopping center in the Syrian capital Damascus has killed at least 11 people, the Interior Ministry said, in one of the deadliest blazes in recent years.

Many of those killed on Tuesday were security guards or personnel who were on duty overnight at the six-story building, said Ahmad Abbas, the civil defense director.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

“Eleven people died as a result of the fire at La Mirada shopping center and two people were rescued,” the interior ministry said.

The blaze caused “significant property damage”, he added, devastating shops selling clothing, leather goods and cosmetics – many of which were highly flammable.

“Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the fire,” the ministry statement said.

Fires are frequently reported in the Syrian capital – some caused by electrical short circuits, others by unsafe heating methods.

A witness, Hani, 52, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said the fire started around 3 a.m. (0100 GMT).

“The fire started on the top floor and started to spread quickly to other levels,” he said.

Firefighters put out a fire that broke out at the La Mirada shopping mall building in Damascus early March 1, 2022 [Louai Beshara/AFP]

“My livelihood is gone”

At least 20 fire trucks helped put out the blaze, said Abbas, the civil defense director.

“It took us about four hours to bring the fire under control,” he said, adding that the victims died either of suffocation or severe burns.

“They were all guards working at the mall or service workers,” Abbas said.

Mohammad Aboulreesh from Damascus hospital said he had received seven corpses which had been badly burned and had not yet been identified, according to the official SANA news agency.

A correspondent for the AFP news agency saw fire trucks parked in front of the charred facade of the mall, where dozens of businesses had been destroyed.

“We asked everyone to stay away from the area to facilitate civil protection operations,” a fire official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized. to talk to the media.

Despite the security cordon, dozens of people flocked to the scene, including traders who rushed to check their stores.

A shop owner collapsed when he saw the damage.

“My livelihood is gone… my money is gone,” he cried.

The blaze comes a week after a fire at a hospital in Syria’s second city of Aleppo killed three people, sparked by a short circuit, according to the SANA news agency.

In September last year, a firefighter died and two civilians were injured in a fire that destroyed a fabric warehouse in the Old City of Damascus, SANA said.


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Peggy P. Gilmore