DOHA: The explosion in Istanbul Restaurant at Q-Mart fuel station near Landmark Mall on February 27, which killed 11 people and injured 35, was caused by gas from an open pizza oven at the restaurant, the Ministry of Interior disclosed yesterday.
Announcing the findings of an official investigation into the incident, the ministry said that the LPG tank on the rooftop of the restaurant, which belonged to Woqod, had not exploded — as initially suspected — and it had remained intact after the blast.
The investigation report vindicates claims by senior Woqod officials that the 1,000-litre gas tank was not responsible for the blast.
The report also ruled out the possibility of sabotage, saying that no remnants of any explosives or other supportive evidence was found at the site.
The Public Prosecution has decided to refer the case to a criminal court after completing the investigation, according to earlier reports.
The ministry called a press conference yesterday to announce the findings of the investigation but did not give details about the case.
Addressing the press conference, Brigadier Hassan Ahmed Al Obaidly, director of the Forensic Lab Department at the ministry, said that forensic experts had visited the site soon after the incident and samples from the debris were sent to the lab for analysis.
The investigation team set up by the ministry found that the blast had occurred as a result of gas leaking from a pizza oven that was left open. The restaurant was closed at the time of the blast, which occurred at 10.11 am. It had been closed for several hours, since 2 am or 3 am.
The gas from the open oven filled the restaurant and got ignited by electric sparks from some appliance, probably produced by the automatic functioning of a refrigerator, explained Al Obaidly.
He said there was no proof of sabotage.
The explosion was not centred in any particular area and if any explosives had been involved the impact would have been stronger, he said.
Assistant Director of the Capital Security Department and head of the inquiry team, Brig. Ali Khujaim Al Adhbi, said the role of the team was to gather evidence in collaboration with other security agencies such as Civil Defence, Criminal Investigation and Criminal Evidences and Information.
“The team utilised the service of experts and technicians to collect evidence and samples from the scene, in the presence of public prosecution representatives who supervised investigation proceedings.”
He said the findings have been forwarded to the public prosecution to complete its own investigation and proceedings.
To a question on the number of the accused, Al Adhbi said security agencies were responsible for gathering information, and it is not their responsibility to accuse any one. “All the information collected from the people involved, witnesses and surveillance cameras have been referred to the public prosecution which will decide who shall be accused based on the findings.”
The Director of the Operations Department at General Directorate of Civil Defence, Brig. Hamad Al Duhaimi, said after the incident, the directorate had taken measures to ensure effective implementation of the law to protect citizens, residents and public and private properties.
As part of it, restaurants at fuel stations have been banned from using LPG cylinders and tanks and asked to replace them with electric stoves.
A Civil Defence team has been conducting inspections to ensure all eateries abide safety procedures. Most of them have responded positively while some were shut for failure to abide by regulations.
Al Duhaimi urged the public to report anything they notice which can harm safety of people and properties.
The Director of Public Relations Department at the ministry, Col. Abdullah Khalifa Al Muftah said the operating room receives reports and complaints round-the-clock on 999. The department also welcomes all type of communications, inquiries and information through its channels.The Peninsula