The complete picture of the fire in Qatar has yet to emerge, but survivors and firefighters were pointing to major lapses in fire security and alarm systems in the mall.
It is still not clear what caused the blaze, which media reports said broke out at a childcare area at the Villagio Mall in Doha's west.
However, reports indicate that toddlers were trapped in a first floor nursery after a staircase collapsed.
Qatari ministry of the interior says four teachers and two civil defense officials are among the dead.
Firefighters are said to have been forced to break through roof to evacuate victims .
At least one relative of one two-year-old victim said the building did not appear to have fire alarms or sprinklers "There don't seem to have been any fire alarms or sprinklers at the mall," a relative of a two-year-old child who died in the fire told Reuters, speaking by phone from Qatar's Hamad hospital.
A ministry official said that all buildings in Qatar abide by safety regulations "with no exceptions" and that an investigative committee would be formed to look into safety requirements issues.
"We tried to get to the children's area but the extremely high heat stood in our way," Brigadier Hamad al-Duhaimi of the Qatari civil defence told reporters.
The Villagio Mall, which opened in 2006, is an Italianate-themed shopping complex with a hotel, theme park and canal plied by gondolas.