40 Indians among 49 killed as massive blaze engulfs building in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf

Smoke billows after a fire broke out in a building, in Mangaf, Kuwait, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Credit : PTI)

PM Modi sends Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh to Kuwait

NEW DELHI (TIP): Over 40 Indians were killed and more than 50 others injured after a devastating fire broke out at dawn in a building housing around 195 migrant workers in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf area, officials said on Wednesday, June 12. The total number of people killed in the Al-Mangaf building was 49 and 42 of them are learnt to be Indians; the remaining ones are Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals, they said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who described the fire incident as “saddening”, reviewed the situation arising out of it at a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Principal Secretary to the PM PK Mishra, among others.

An official statement said Modi expressed deep sorrow at the “unfortunate incident” and extended condolences to the families of the deceased. He also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to each of the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The official statement said Modi wished speedy recovery of those injured and directed that the government of India should extend all possible assistance.

“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 on X earlier.

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh is urgently travelling to Kuwait following a direction from the prime minister primarily to oversee assistance to Indians injured in the fire and to ensure early repatriation of mortal remains of those killed.

Jaishankar also expressed deep shock over the incident and said the Indian embassy in the Gulf nation will render the “fullest assistance” to all concerned. Officials said most of the Indian victims are from Kerala.

The fire in Al-Mangaf building was reported to authorities in Al-Ahmadi governorate at 4.30 am and most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation, Kuwaiti media reported, adding the fire started in a kitchen.

Kuwait’s Interior Ministry in a statement confirmed that the death toll reached 49.

“Deeply shocked by the news of the fire incident in Kuwait city. There are reportedly over 40 deaths and over 50 have been hospitalized. Our Ambassador has gone to the camp. We are awaiting further information,” Jaishankar said on X.

“Deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives. Wish early and full recovery to those who have been injured,” he said.

Later, Jaishankar spoke to Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya.

The Minister posted on X: “Apprised of the efforts made by Kuwaiti authorities in that regard. Was assured that the incident would be fully investigated and that responsibility will be fixed.”

Jaishankar urged his counterpart for early repatriation of the mortal remains of those who lost their lives. He emphasized that those injured were getting the requisite medical attention.

“We will review the situation after MoS KV Singh reaches Kuwait.”

Indian ambassador to Kuwait Adarsh Swaika visited several hospitals, including where the injured have been admitted. Construction firm NBTC group rented the building for stay of more than 195 workers, most of them Indians from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and northern states, the Kuwaiti media said.

The NBTC group is partly owned by an Indian, officials said.

Kuwait’s Interior Ministry said criminal evidence department personnel are currently working on identifying the victims and revealing the cause of the fire.

It said strict measures will be taken against building owners who violate laid down norms.

“Unfortunately, we received a report of a fire at… exactly 6:00 am (0300 GMT) in the Mangaf area,” Major General Eid Al-Owaihan, head of the interior ministry’s General Department of Criminal Evidence said.

Kuwait’s health ministry said the injured were admitted to several hospitals, with 21 of them sent to Al-Adan Hospital, six to Farwaniya hospital, one to Al-Amiri and 11 to Mubarak hospital.

Officials in Delhi said officials from the Indian embassy are going to the hospitals where the victims were taken to.

The number of deaths and injured people will be known after they get the details, one of the officials said.

“Amb @AdarshSwaika visited the Al-Adan hospital where over 30 Indian workers injured in today’s fire incident have been admitted. He met a number of patients and assured them of full assistance from the Embassy,” the Indian embassy said on ‘X’.

“Almost all are reported to be stable by hospital authorities,” it said.

Indian ambassador Swaika also visited the site of the fire. The Indian embassy said it is in touch with Kuwaiti law enforcement authorities, fire service and health department for necessary action.

Interior minister of Kuwait Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah ordered an investigation into the fire incident and issued directions to apprehend the owner and janitor of Al-Mangaf building.

“What happened today is a result of the greed of the company and building owners,” Al-Sabah was quoted as saying by Kuwait Times Kuwaiti authorities have started an investigation into the fire.

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah visited the site of the fire and blamed violations of norms and greed by the real estate owners for the incident, reports from Kuwaiti said.
(Source: PTI)

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