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Another Indian succumbs to injuries in Kuwait building fire, total death count reaches 46

A special IAF aircraft carrying the mortal remains of 45 Indians killed in the tragic fire incident in Kuwait landed in Kerala today. Out of the total 175 Indian workers in the housing facility, 46 have died, while others reportedly suffered injuries and are currently undergoing treatment in Kuwait.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kuwait City Updated on: June 14, 2024 17:48 IST
The building in Kuwait housing 196 migrant workers that
Image Source : PTI The building in Kuwait housing 196 migrant workers that caught fire on Wednesday.

Kuwait City: Another Indian succumbed to his injuries in the massive blaze at a building in Kuwait, taking the total number of Indians killed in the fire to 46. Authorities say an electrical short circuit in the room of the guard on the ground floor of the building caused the blaze that killed 50 people.

"One of the injured died" overnight, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya told reporters, raising the death toll of Indians to 46. Most deaths were due to smoke inhalation while residents in the six-storey building were sleeping when the fire broke out early Wednesday in Kuwait's southern Ahmadi Governorate. The building was home to 196 migrant workers, mostly Indians.

It is pertinent to mention that a special IAF aircraft carrying the mortal remains of 45 Indians, who were killed in the tragic fire incident in Kuwait, landed in New Delhi from Kerala today. The special IAF flight, organized by the Indian government to ensure immediate repatriation of the deceased's remains from a labor housing facility in the Mangaf area of Kuwait, landed at Cochin International Airport.

MoS for External Affairs Kirtivardhan Singh, who was on a visit to Kuwait at the direction of PM Modi, met with the injured in various hospitals and ascertained their well-being while also assuring them of all support from the Government of India. Significantly, the Minister during his visit also met with senior Kuwaiti officials, including Sheikh Fahad Yousef Saud Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Interior of Kuwait, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya.

What caused the deadly blaze?

The investigation team of the fire department said on Thursday that the fire was caused by an electric short circuit in the room of the building guard and spread to other places. The guard's room is located on the ground floor. Citing security sources, the paper said that there were 179 workers inside the building when the fire broke out, while 17 were outside. Of the 196 residents, 175 are Indians, 11 are Filipinos and the rest are from Thailand, Pakistan and Egypt.

According to an official, many of the victims suffocated while trying to run down the stairs because they were filled with smoke. He added that the victims could not go to the rooftop because the door was locked. The Accident Investigation Department's teams concluded their technical inspections, which included analyzing samples of fire debris and conducting interviews with witnesses present during the incident, as per reports. 

The specialists from the Investigations Department meticulously examined the site to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. Their findings unequivocally pointed to an electrical short circuit as the root cause, the statement said. This discovery underscores the importance of adhering to electrical safety protocols to prevent such tragic incidents in the future, it added.

Kuwait Municipality said on Thursday its teams had shut down 568 irregular basements of residential and commercial buildings in the past ten months. The personnel issued 1,639 citations and “blocked” 596 properties. Moreover, up to 189 basements packed with various unlicensed items had been evacuated.

Three arrested in connection with deadly fire

Meanwhile, a Kuwaiti citizen and several foreigners have been arrested in connection with charges of manslaughter and causing injuries due to negligence in security and safety measures following the fire incident, according to reports. An investigation has been launched by the public prosecutor of the Arab country, which aims to uncover the circumstances behind the incident and what might have triggered the deadly fire.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on Thursday assured full support to the Indians affected in a massive fire at an apartment housing foreign workers in the country and vowed to promptly investigate the tragedy. The Kuwaiti minister gave this assurance Kirti Vardhan Singh, who was there to oversee relief efforts and meet the injured, called on him.

Indians constitute 21 per cent (1 million) of the total population of Kuwait and 30 per cent of its workforce (approximately 9 lakhs). Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah has issued directives for the distribution of financial assistance to the families of the deceased, Sheikh Fahad said, without mentioning the quantum of the compensation.

The Naser M Al Baddah & Partner General Trading & Contracting Company (NBTC) group has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 8 lakh each for the kin of the deceased, as the tragedy-hit building was occupied by employees of the NBTC group -- one of the biggest construction companies in Kuwait. Following a special cabinet meeting held on Thursday, the Kerala government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced financial relief of Rs 5 lakh for the victims' families.

(with inputs from agencies)

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