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Kuwait fire tragedy: FM Al-Yahya assures full support to Indians affected, vows investigation into incident

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on Thursday pledged complete support to Indians affected by a devastating fire at an apartment housing foreign workers in the country.

Kuwait fire tragedy: FM Al-Yahya assures full support to Indians affected, vows investigation into incident snt
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First Published Jun 13, 2024, 3:36 PM IST

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on Thursday pledged complete support to Indians affected by a devastating fire at an apartment housing foreign workers in the country. He also committed to conducting a thorough investigation into the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 49 people, including approximately 40 Indians.

The Kuwaiti minister made these assurances during a meeting with Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who is currently overseeing relief operations and visiting the injured.

Also read: Kuwait fire tragedy: 24 Keralites killed, 7 critical, confirms NORKA; Bodies to be repatriated soon

"MoS @KVSinghMPGonda called on FM of Kuwait H.E. Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya in Kuwait. FM Yahya conveyed his condolences on the tragic incident. He assured full support including for medical care, early repatriation of mortal remains and investigation of the incident," the Embassy of India in Kuwait posted on X.

On Thursday, Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh visited Indians injured in a large fire and reassured them of full support from the Indian government.

The fire, which occurred on Wednesday in a seven-storey building in Mangaf, a southern city, claimed the lives of at least 49 foreign workers and left 50 others injured. The building housed 196 migrant workers.

"On the directions of PM @narendramodi ji, MoS @KVSinghMPGonda arrived in Kuwait and immediately rushed to Jaber Hospital to ascertain well-being of injured Indians in the fire incident yesterday. He met the 6 injured admitted at the hospital. All of them are safe," the Indian mission posted on X.

He visited Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital in Kuwait where 7 injured Indians have been admitted. "MoS ascertained their well-being & assured them of all support from GoI. He also appreciated hospital authorities, doctors and nurses for taking good care of the Indians," the mission said.

Officials in New Delhi stated on Thursday that Kuwaiti authorities are currently performing DNA tests on the bodies of individuals who perished in the tragic fire in Mangaf, southern Kuwait. Additionally, an Indian Air Force aircraft is prepared to repatriate the mortal remains of the deceased Indians affected by the incident.

"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 Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Modi, who described the tragic incident as 'saddening', conducted a review of the situation in a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra, among others.

After the meeting, the prime minister announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund. He directed the government to provide all possible assistance to those affected.

On Wednesday, External Affairs Minister spoke with his Kuwaiti counterpart over the phone, urging for the prompt repatriation of the mortal remains of the deceased.

"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," Jaishankar said on 'X'.

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

Most of the Indian victims hailed from Kerala, officials confirmed.

The fire broke out shortly after 4:00 am, catching the 196 male residents of the building asleep. According to Interior Ministry and fire department officials, thick black smoke led to the suffocation of most victims.

Currently, the injured are receiving medical care at five government hospitals in Kuwait—Adan, Jaber, Farwaniya, Mubarak Al Kabeer, and Jahra—where most are reported to be in stable condition.

Following the incident, Indian Ambassador Adarsh Swaika promptly visited the site and hospitals to ensure the well-being of Indian nationals. The Indian Embassy continues to work closely with Kuwaiti authorities to support and assist the injured.

Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah ordered the arrest of the Kuwaiti landlord and Egyptian guard of the building. He cautioned against releasing them without his approval, describing the fire as a catastrophe. Starting Thursday, municipal teams will inspect all buildings with the authority to address violations immediately.

Also read: Kuwait Fire Tragedy: How a water tank saved Malayali from certain death

Authorities also plan to address the issue of overcrowding and safety compliance among expatriate workers residing in buildings.

The public prosecution has initiated an investigation into the fire's cause and circumstances. While the official cause remains undisclosed, local media speculated it could be due to a gas leak from the building's ground floor.

Colonel Sayed Al-Mousawi, head of investigations at Kuwait Fire Department, revealed that inflammable materials used as partitions exacerbated the fire, producing dense smoke clouds. Many victims succumbed to smoke inhalation while attempting to evacuate via smoke-filled stairwells, unable to access the rooftop due to a locked door.

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