NEW DELHI: A special Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft carrying the mortal remains of the 45 Indians who lost their lives in Kuwait building fire landed in Kochi on Friday. Among the deceased, 23 were identified as Keralites, while the remaining 18 were from Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Union minister Suresh Gopi and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan were among those who were present at the airport.Union minister of state Singh VK Singh was onboard the flight carrying the mortal remains of the victims.

What caused the building fire?

The fire, which is believed to have originated in a kitchen, engulfed the building housing approximately 195 migrant workers, mostly Indians employed by the NBTC Group, at around 4:30 am.
The majority of the fatalities were caused by smoke inhalation. Over 30 individuals are currently receiving treatment at five government hospitals in Kuwait, with seven reported to be in critical condition and five on ventilator support.
Some victims died after jumping from the burning building, while others succumbed to smoke inhalation. 92 people managed to escape unharmed.
In addition to the Indian nationals, the fire also claimed the lives of Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian, and Nepali workers. The tragedy has been attributed to alleged negligence by the building’s owners.
Kuwait’s Fire Force has determined that an electrical short circuit was the cause of the fire, based on a field examination, as reported by the state-run KUNA news agency. “The public prosecutor has ordered the detention of a Kuwaiti national and an expatriate on charges of “erroneous killing” related to the fire incident.”

The NBTC Group, which is partly owned by an Indian, rented the building to house the workers. Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah, has blamed the incident on violations of safety norms and the greed of real estate owners. He has also ordered the arrest of the building’s owner and janitor for further investigation.

Government’s response

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired an emergency meeting in New Delhi to review the situation. He expressed deep sorrow over the incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased and also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
“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,” PM Modi said on X (formerly Twitter).

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External affairs minister S Jaishankar held discussions with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, emphasizing the urgency of repatriating the mortal remains of the deceased and ensuring the injured receive necessary medical attention. Jaishankar highlighted Kuwait’s commitment to a thorough investigation to determine accountability.