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Kuwait fire: Indian mission swings into action

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
June 13, 2024 09:59 IST
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India's mission in Kuwait is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities on the tragic fire incident in a building in the southern city of Mangaf which killed 49 foreign workers, including around 40 Indians, and injured 50 others, even as officials started an investigation into one of the worst fires in the Gulf nation.

IMAGE: A Kuwaiti police officer is seen in front of a burnt building following a deadly fire, in Mangaf, southern Kuwait, on June 12, 2024. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

The fire started in a kitchen of the seven-storey building housing 195 migrant workers in Mangaf in Ahmadi Governorate early on Wednesday.

The incident triggered calls for action against real estate landlords and company owners who violate the law to house large numbers of foreign labourers in extremely unsafe conditions to cut costs.

'In an unfortunate and tragic fire incident earlier today in a Labour housing facility in the Mangaf area of Kuwait, around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured. The embassy is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities and the company. We offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families,' the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said in a statement on Wednesday night.


The fire erupted just after 4 am when the majority of the 196 all-men residents of the building were asleep. It resulted in huge thick clouds of black smoke that led to the suffocation of most of the victims, according to officials from the Interior Ministry and the fire department.

Those injured are admitted to five government hospitals (Adan, Jaber, Farwaniya, Mubarak Al Kabeer and Jahra hospitals) in Kuwait and receiving proper medical care and attention. According to hospital authorities, most of the admitted patients are stable, the Indian mission said.

Following the incident, the Ambassador of India in Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, immediately visited the location of the incident and also the hospitals to ascertain the welfare of the Indian nationals.

The Embassy continues to coordinate with local authorities to assist Indian nationals who have been injured in this unfortunate incident and extend all possible support.

The Embassy is receiving full cooperation from the Kuwaiti authorities.

On the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of State Kirti Vardhan Singh is immediately travelling to Kuwait to work towards early repatriation of mortal remains as well as for medical assistance to those injured.

'Our Embassy in Kuwait continues to remain in touch with local authorities to provide relief to those affected. The Embassy has established a helpline +965-65505246 (whatsapp and regular call) for family members to get in touch. Regular updates are being provided through the helpline,' the statement said.

Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed deep sorrow and sympathy to the families of the victims. He ordered an immediate investigation into what caused the fire and to hold to account those responsible.

Crown Prince Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah also sent condolence messages to the victims' relatives.

India's External Affiars Minister S Jaishankar posted that he was 'deeply shocked by the news' and offered 'deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives'.

He spoke on the phone with his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Al-Yahya, who 'expressed the condolences of the leadership, government and people of Kuwait', the foreign ministry statement said.

Deputy Premier, Defence and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah ordered the arrest of the Kuwaiti landlord of the building and the Egyptian guard of the building and warned officials not to release them without his permission.

The minister told reporters that the fire was a catastrophe, adding that from Thursday, teams from the municipality will begin inspecting all buildings and have the authority to remove any violation without any warning.

He said authorities would also start from Thursday to study the issue of overcrowding of expat workers in buildings and the failure to comply with safety conditions.

The public prosecution has started an investigation into the fire to uncover the circumstances behind the incident and what might have triggered the deadly inferno, it said on X, praising the state-wide response to the disaster.

There has been no official word on how the blaze started or what caused it. Some local media reported that it could be a gas leak from the building's ground floor.

Head of investigations at Kuwait Fire Department Col Sayed Al-Mousawi said that the team investigating the causes of the fire found that an inflammable material was used as partitions between apartments and also between rooms, which caused the huge black clouds of smoke.

He said that many of the victims suffocated while trying to run down the stairs because they were filled with smoke, adding that the victims could not go to the rooftop because the door was locked.

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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.
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