At least 11 people killed in fire at shopping centre in Syrian capital Damascus

A fire at a shopping centre in the Syrian capital Damascus has killed at least 11 people, the interior ministry said.

Many of those killed were security guards or staff who were on duty overnight in the six-storey building, said Ahmad Abbas, the director of civil defence.

“Eleven people have died as a result of the fire in the La Mirada Mall, and two people have been rescued,” the interior ministry said.

The fire caused “extensive material damage”, it added, ripping through stores that sold clothes, leather goods and cosmetics.

“Investigations are under way to determine the cause of the blaze,” the ministry statement read.

Incidents of fire are reported frequently in the Syrian capital.

At least 20 fire engines helped douse the blaze, said Abbas, the director of civil defence.

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

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