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'Unfortunate': Kerala Health Minister criticises central govt for denial of travel permission to Kuwait

Kerala Health Minister Veena George criticised the Central government for denying her permission to travel to Kuwait to oversee relief efforts for Keralites affected by a deadly fire. George emphasised the critical need for state representation, as a significant number of victims were from Kerala.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 Kochi Updated on: June 14, 2024 10:44 IST
Kerala Health Minister Veena George Kuwait
Image Source : ANI Kerala Health Minister Veena George.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George expressed disappointment on Friday over the Central government's decision to deny her permission to travel to Kuwait to oversee relief operations for Keralites affected by a tragic fire. Speaking at Cochin International Airport, George emphasised the critical need for state representation in Kuwait due to the significant number of victims from Kerala.

Central government's response lamented

"It is very unfortunate that we did not get consent to travel to Kuwait. More than half of the people who died were from Kerala, and the majority of those under treatment are also from Kerala," George stated. She highlighted the urgency of the situation and the Kerala government's intent to send her and State Mission Director (NHM) Jeevan Babu to coordinate relief efforts.

Emergency cabinet meeting and relief plans

Following an emergency Cabinet meeting on Thursday, the Kerala government had planned for George and Babu to travel to Kuwait immediately. Their mission included overseeing the treatment of injured Keralites and managing the repatriation of deceased individuals' bodies.

Details of the tragic fire

A devastating fire broke out in a six-story building in Mangaf City, Kuwait, on Wednesday, resulting in at least 48 deaths. Among the 176 Indian workers housed in the facility, 45 died, and 33 were hospitalised. The Indian embassy reported that the victims included 23 from Kerala, along others from Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and several other states.

Incomplete information from embassy

George pointed out the lack of detailed information from the Indian embassy regarding the seriously injured. "The data that we have collected indicates that seven people have been admitted to the hospital, with four from Kerala, but this has not been officially confirmed," she said. George stressed that her visit aimed to support the injured and advocate for their needs to the Central Government.

Arrival of mortal remains and government response

A special Indian Air Force aircraft carrying the mortal remains of 45 Indian victims was expected to land in Kerala on Friday morning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his deepest condolences and promised comprehensive assistance to those affected by the tragedy.

Minister of State for External Affairs visits Kuwait

Minister of State for External Affairs, Kirti Vardhan Singh, arrived in Kuwait on Thursday. He visited hospitals where the injured were being treated and interacted with Indian nationals affected by the fire incident.

This incident has raised significant concerns over the coordination between state and central governments in responding to international crises involving Indian nationals.

Also read | Special IAF flight with mortal remains of 45 Indians who died in Kuwait fire tragedy leaves for Kochi

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