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Kerala bids farewell to 23 victims of Kuwait fire tragedy

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
June 14, 2024 21:06 IST
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Kerala on Friday said a tearful goodbye to most of the 23 victims from the state who died in the Kuwait fire tragedy -- one of the biggest incidents to ever affect the state's expatriate community known for their dedication and hard work.

IMAGE: A family member of a victim who lost his life in the Kuwait fire incident breaks down near his mortal remains, at the Cochin International Airport, in Ernakulam on Friday. Photograph: ANI Photo

The residences of the victims witnessed heart-wrenching moments as their kin, friends and neighbours found it difficult to be consoled when the bodies arrived from Kochi in specially arranged ambulances piloted by police vehicles across the state.

Most of the victims' bodies were buried or cremated according to their religious customs by the evening.


A few families have chosen to keep the bodies of their loved ones for burial or cremation later, as they are awaiting the arrival of close relatives from abroad.

Earlier, the bodies of the 45 Indians, including 31 from three South Indian states -- Kerala (23), Tamil Nadu (7), and Karnataka (1) -- were brought here on a special flight.

Later, they were transported to their respective homes.

Indian Air Force (IAF) flight IAF C-130J in which the bodies were brought to Kochi later flew to New Delhi with the mortal remains of 14 victims.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh had accompanied the bodies from Kuwait.

In Kochi, it took an hour for the caskets to be brought out due to the necessary security clearances, including customs and immigration processes.

The bodies of victims from the South Indian states were received at the international airport in Kochi, where solemn tributes were paid by central and state ministers, including Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Grieving families had gathered from early morning, patiently waiting for the arrival of their loved ones.

As airport staff began bringing out the caskets at 11.30 am, the atmosphere turned sombre, with stifled sobs giving way to loud cries of grief as the names of the victims were revealed.

Besides the chief minister, Union Ministers of State Kirti Vardhan Singh and Suresh Gopi, state ministers and other dignitaries were present to pay their respects.

Their presence offered a small solace to the grieving families during this time of immense sorrow.

Tamil Nadu Minister for Minorities Welfare and Non-Resident Tamils Welfare Gingee K S Masthan was also present as the bodies of the seven persons belonging to Tamil Nadu were brought to Kochi.

Kerala police gave a guard of honour to the deceased.

After the official ceremonies, the family members received the bodies.

The father of Cibin Abraham from Mallappally wrapped his arms around the casket and cried while other family members tried to console him. Cibin's in-laws also came to receive the body.

The impact of the tragedy was doubled for a family from Chengannur, as two of its members lost their lives in the tragic fire accident.

Mathew Thomas (53) from Chengannur and his nephew Shibu Varghese (30) from Payippadu were among those who lost their lives in the incident.

"Shibu, who leaves behind a wife and toddler, worked as an accountant at NBTC company, while Mathew worked in another department within the same company," a relative, who came to receive the bodies, told PTI.

The relative said that the bodies would be shifted to Pushpagiri Medical College in Thiruvalla, and that the funerals will be held later.

Many family members said they are yet to learn the full details of how the accident happened and the nature of the injuries that caused the death of their loved ones.

After the ceremony, the bodies were shifted to the designated ambulances, and a pilot vehicle of the Kerala police accompanied them until they reached their respective hometowns.

The Kerala police also accompanied the seven ambulances from Tamil Nadu till they crossed the state's border.

The body of the person from Karnataka will be airlifted to Hyderabad on the 9.50 pm flight, according to officials from Karnataka.

"The deceased person is from Kalburgi (in Karnataka), which is near Hyderabad (in Telangana). From there, we have arranged an ambulance," the official said.

The ambulances slowly started departing around 12.30 pm, bearing the weight of sorrow.

Vijayan, speaking to reporters at the airport, said that 'pravasis' (expatriates) are the lifeline of Kerala and the deaths of so many Indian expatriates in the fire has been a 'huge disaster for the country' as well as the expatriate community.

"It is an unending loss for the families of the deceased. The Kuwaiti government has taken strong and effective action following the incident and the Indian government intervened in a good way.

"Measures need to be taken to prevent a recurrence of such an incident and it is hoped that the Kuwaiti government will take the requisite action for the same," the CM said.

Officials had said that 49 people were killed in the fire in the Al-Mangaf building on June 12 and the majority of them were Indians. The remaining were Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals.

The building in southern Kuwait's Mangaf area housed around 195 migrant workers.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.