Over 40 Indians among 49 dead in Kuwait blaze

1 month ago 19

NEW DELHI/KOCHI: More than 40 Indians were reported killed and many injured in Kuwait after a fire early Wednesday engulfed a multi-storey building that housed foreign

workers

, most of them Indians. The overall death toll had reached 49 till late in the evening, out of which 42 were believed to be Indians.
India rushed MoS (MEA) Kirti Vardhan Singh to oversee assistance to the injured and to coordinate with local authorities for early repatriation of mortal remains of the victims.
PM Narendra Modi chaired a review meeting at his residence and announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased India nationals from the PM Relief Fund. “Prime Minister expressed his deep sorrow at the unfortunate incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased. He wished speedy recovery of those injured,” said a govt statement.
“The fire mishap in Kuwait City is saddening. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. The Indian embassy in Kuwait is closely monitoring the situation and working with the authorities there to assist the affected,” Modi said in a post on X.
Govt officials did not share any figure on the number of casualties till late because many of the victims were yet to be identified. Sources said identification may take some time as, like elsewhere in the Gulf, passports of foreign workers in Kuwait are kept by their employers. A large proportion of the million-strong Indian community in Kuwait consists of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.
A senior Kuwaiti official was quoted as saying many of the victims were Indian nationals from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and north Indian states. According to officials in Kuwait, most deaths were caused by smoke inhalation while the victims were sleeping. A significant number of occupants were evacuated, they added.

The fire started in a kitchen on the ground floor in the six-storey building in the

Mangaf

area in Kuwait’s southern Ahmadi Governorate, officials said, adding that the building reportedly had nearly 200 people living in it, who were workers of the same company.
Reports said a preliminary investigation suggested that a short circuit led to the fire and it quickly spread to other floors. A few individuals, who leaped out of the building, were among those killed. Others succumbed to burns or were suffocated due to smoke inhalation.
Jaishankar expressed shock, and said the Indian embassy would render the fullest assistance to all concerned.
In a statement, the Kuwaiti interior ministry said the death toll had reached 49, the Kuwait Times newspaper reported. The ministry said criminal evidence department personnel were working on identifying the victims on site and added that strict measures would be taken against building owners who violated the law.
“Unfortunately, we received a report of a fire at... exactly 6 am (0830 IST) in the Mangaf area,” Major General Eid Al Owaihan, head of the interior ministry’s General Department of Criminal Evidence, said. The deceased were aged between 20 and 50 years, Al-Owaihan was quoted as saying by Arab Times. Sources said five firefighters sustained injuries during the rescue operation.
The building was rented by NBTC group, a leading firm in import of building and construction material in Kuwait. Malayali businessman K G Abraham is its partner and managing director while its chairman is Mohammed N Al Baddah.
The Indian embassy has put in place an emergency helpline number, +965-65505246. “All concerned are requested to connect over this helpline for updates. Embassy remains committed to render all possible assistance,” the Indian embassy in Kuwait said on X.
Indians constitute 21% (1 million) of the total population of Kuwait and 30% of its total workforce.
The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah ordered authorities to probe the massive fire and vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the tragedy.
Sheikh Fahad Al Yousuf Al Sabah, serving as the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defence, has ordered

police

to arrest the owner of the Mangaf building where the blaze occurred, the building’s janitor as well as the owner of the company responsible for the workers pending the end of the criminal evidence personnel’s examination of the scene, Kuwait Times reported.