40 Indians among 49 workers killed in Kuwait inferno

Over a dozen injured in the blaze in apartment building in Al Ahmadi Governorate; PM Modi expresses shock, deputes Minister to oversee help

Updated - June 14, 2024 08:40 am IST

Published - June 12, 2024 03:32 pm IST - New Delhi

India’s Ambassador to Kuwait Adarsh Swaika visits a hospital where workers who suffered injuries in a fire that broke out in a building have been admitted in Mangaf, Kuwait on June 12, 2024. Photo: X/@indembkwt via PTI

India’s Ambassador to Kuwait Adarsh Swaika visits a hospital where workers who suffered injuries in a fire that broke out in a building have been admitted in Mangaf, Kuwait on June 12, 2024. Photo: X/@indembkwt via PTI

At least 49 migrant workers, including around 40 Indian citizens, have died in a deadly fire that devastated a building in Kuwait’s southern district of Al-Mangaf. The fire that broke out in the apartment building located in Kuwait’s Al Ahmadi Governorate early on Wednesday also left more than a dozen injured, who were admitted to nearby hospitals, reported the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar expressed shock over the incident, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed ‘serious concern’ about the condition of Indians in the Gulf region.

Also Read | Kuwait fire: IAF aircraft carrying mortal remains of 45 Indian victims to land in Kochi early on June 14

“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,” said Mr. Modi in a message. Mr. Modi held a review meeting on Wednesday evening about the condition of the affected Indians in Kuwait. He deputed Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh to oversee the help being rendered to the injured and to bring back the remains of the Indians who perished in the incident.

Smoke billows after a fire broke out in a building, in Mangaf, Kuwait on June 12, 2024.

Smoke billows after a fire broke out in a building, in Mangaf, Kuwait on June 12, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Before leaving for Kuwait, Mr. Singh said he would be working for “early repatriation of mortal remains” of those who died in the fire incident.  The Indian embassy in Kuwait has set up a helpline number (+965-65505246) which can be reached by phone and WhatsApp.

Envoy visits hospital

Indian ambassador to Kuwait Adarsh Swaika visited the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital where 11 injured workers were admitted. “Ten of them are expected to be released today and one in hospital is reportedly stable,” the Indian embassy said in a statement. The Government of Kuwait has not made any statement officially so far, but Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah has ordered the police to arrest the owner of the building located in Al-Mangaf.

Mr. Gandhi has expressed “deepest condolences” for the bereaved families, many of whom hail from Kerala. The loss of lives of Indian migrant workers in Kuwait comes weeks after the death of an Indian national, also from Kerala, in shelling in conflict-torn Israel. “The condition of our workers in the Middle East is a serious matter of concern. The Government of India, working alongside its counterparts, must prioritise the safety of our citizens and ensure dignified living standards,” said Mr. Gandhi in a social media post.

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and acting Interior Minister, Fahad Yusuf Al-Sabah speaks with police officers in front of a burnt building, following a deadly fire, in Mangaf, southern Kuwait on June 12, 2024.

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and acting Interior Minister, Fahad Yusuf Al-Sabah speaks with police officers in front of a burnt building, following a deadly fire, in Mangaf, southern Kuwait on June 12, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The incident has highlighted the poor living conditions of blue-collar Indian workers in the region.

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