Kuwait fire: MoS Kirti Vardhan Singh reaches Kuwait to ensure early repatriation of mortal remains of Mangaf fire victims

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh oversees assistance and repatriation after tragic fire in Kuwait kills 49 foreign workers

Updated - June 14, 2024 08:40 am IST

Published - June 13, 2024 03:13 pm IST - Dubai/Kuwait City

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh meets with an Indian who was injured in the Mangaf fire incident, at Jaber Hospital, in Kuwait on June 13, 2024.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh meets with an Indian who was injured in the Mangaf fire incident, at Jaber Hospital, in Kuwait on June 13, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh on June 13 reached Kuwait to oversee the assistance to those injured in a massive fire at an apartment housing foreign workers and for the early repatriation of the bodies of about 40 Indians killed in the tragic incident.

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

At least 49 foreign workers were killed and 50 others injured in the fire on June 12 at the seven-storey building housing 195 migrant workers in the southern city of Mangaf.

“On the directions of Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi, MoS@KVSinghMPGonda arrives in Kuwait to oversee assistance to those injured in fire tragedy & coordinate with local authorities for early repatriation of mortal remains of those who have died in this unfortunate incident,” the Embassy of India in Kuwait posted on X.

Also read: Kuwait fire LIVE updates

Kuwaiti authorities are conducting DNA tests on the bodies of those killed in the devastating fire incident in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf area and an IAF aircraft is on standby to bring back the mortal remains of Indians killed in the incident, officials said in New Delhi on June 13.

“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 Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement late on June 12 night.

Prime Minister Modi, who described the incident as “saddening”, reviewed the situation at a meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Principal Secretary to PM P.K. Mishra among others.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister announced ex-gratia relief of ₹2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund and directed that the government should extend all possible assistance.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh reaches the Jaber Hospital to meet the Indians injured in the Mangaf fire incident, in Kuwait on June 13, 2024.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh reaches the Jaber Hospital to meet the Indians injured in the Mangaf fire incident, in Kuwait on June 13, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

The External Affairs Minister spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the phone and urged him for the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those killed.

“Spoke to Kuwaiti FM Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the fire tragedy in Kuwait. Apprised of the efforts made by Kuwaiti authorities in that regard. Was assured that the incident would be fully investigated and that responsibility will be fixed,” Mr. Jaishankar said on ‘X’.

“Urged the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those who lost their lives. He emphasised that those injured were getting the requisite medical attention,” he had said.

The officials had said most of the Indian victims were from Kerala.

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

The fire erupted just after 4:00 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.

India’s mission in Kuwait is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities over the incident.

Those injured are presently 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.

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.

Kuwaiti police officers are seen in front of a burnt building following a deadly fire, in Mangaf, southern Kuwait on June 12, 2024.

Kuwaiti police officers are seen in front of a burnt building following a deadly fire, in Mangaf, southern Kuwait on June 12, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

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.

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 June 13, 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 June 13 to study the issue of overcrowding of expat workers in buildings and the failure to comply with safety conditions.

Ambassador of India 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.

Ambassador of India 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 Credit: PTI

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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