Image Source : REUTERS A Kuwaiti police officer is seen in front of a burnt building following a deadly fire, in Mangaf, southern Kuwait

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who flew to Kuwait on Thursday morning, said that an Air Force plane is placed on standby to bring the mortal remains of the Indian labourers killed in the tragic fire incident. A massive fire engulfed a six-storey building in Kuwait housing foreign workers early on Wednesday, killing at least 49 people, mostly Indians, and injuring more than 50 others, according to officials.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Kirti Vardhan Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, where he directed MoS to “urgently” visit the city to assist Indians.  

While speaking to news agency ANI before leaving for Kuwait, the situation was that the victims were mostly burn victims. Singh claimed that some of the bodies were charred beyond recognition. A DNA test is underway to identify the victims, said Singh. An Air Force plane is on the ready. As soon as the bodies are identified, the kin will be informed. Our Airforce plane will bring the bodies back. The latest figures that we had last night, the casualty figures are around 48-49 out of this 42 or 43 are believed to be Indians,” he said.

The fire started in a kitchen in the building in the Mangaf area in Kuwait’s southern Ahmadi Governorate, officials said, adding that the building reportedly had 195 people living in it, who are workers of the same company. In a statement, the Interior Ministry said that the death toll from the tragic fire has reached 49, the Kuwait Times newspaper reported. More than 40 of the dead were Indians while over 50 Indian nationals were injured in the fire, officials said, adding that the remaining ones were Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals.

The ministry said that criminal evidence department personnel are currently working on identifying the victims on-site and revealing the cause of the fire and added that strict measures will be taken against building owners who violate the law. “Unfortunately, we received a report of a fire at.. exactly 6:00 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 majority of the deceased were Indian nationals from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and north Indian states. Their ages ranged between 20 and 50 years, he was quoted as saying by the English language daily Arab Times. The building is rented by the NBTC group. Five firefighters sustained injuries during the rescue operation, sources said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya who apprised him of the efforts made by Kuwaiti authorities after the fire. “Was assured that the incident would be fully investigated and that responsibility will be fixed,” Jaishankar said on X.

Jaishankar also urged the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those who lost their lives and emphasised that those injured were getting the requisite medical attention. The minister added that he would review the situation after Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh reached Kuwait on Thursday to oversee assistance to Indians injured in the fire and to ensure early repatriation of mortal remains of those killed.

“In connection with the tragic fire accident involving Indian workers today, the Embassy has put in place an emergency helpline number: +965-65505246. All concerned are requested to connect over this helpline for updates. The Embassy remains committed to rendering all possible assistance,” the Indian Embassy in Kuwait said in a post on X.

Indians constitute 21 per cent (1 million) of the total population of Kuwait and 30 per cent of its workforce (approximately 9 lakhs).

 



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