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At least 40 Indians among 49 killed in Kuwait fire 

Kuwaiti Emir orders immediate probe even as PM Modi chairs meet to review tragedy

At least 40 Indians among 49 killed in Kuwait fire 
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

At least 40 Indians were killed in Kuwait on Wednesday after a fire broke out in a building housing foreign workers.

The incident took place at a labor housing facility in the Mangaf area of Kuwait, the Indian ministry of external affairs said, adding that around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured. 

Reuters reported that 41 Indians, including 11 from Kerala, were among 49 killed in the fire.

“The embassy is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities and the company. We offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families,” the MEA said. 

Those injured were admitted in five government hospitals (Adan, Jaber, Farwaniya, Mubarak Al Kabeer, and Jahra) and were receiving medical care and attention, it said. 

According to hospital authorities, most of the admitted patients are stable.

India’s ambassador to Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, visited the hospitals to meet with those injured. 

In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting at his residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg to review the situation. 

Minister of external affairs S. Jaishankar, the minister of state for external affairs Kirtivardhan Singh, principal secretary to PM Pramod Kumar Mishra, national security advisor Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra and other senior officials were present in the meeting.

The prime minister expressed his deep sorrow at the unfortunate incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased. He also announced ex- gratia relief of ₹200,000 to the families of the deceased India nationals from the Prime Minister Relief Fund.

On the prime minister’s direction, MoS Singh travelled to Kuwait to oversee the relief measures and facilitate expeditious repatriation of the mortal remains.

According to the Indian embassy in Kuwait, Indians constitute 21% (1 million) of the total population of Kuwait and 30% of its work-force (approximately 900,000). 

Most of these are low paid, blue collar workers who live in overcrowded accommodation such as labor camps exclusively built for them either by the contractors or the companies. 

However, there was no information on what kind of work the laborers were involved in. Local authorities did not immediately provide details about the cause of fire or if there were any building violations. 

Kuwait’s deputy prime minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Saud Al-Sabah, who visited the site, said “the greed of real estate owners is what leads to these matters”. 

The ruler of Kuwait, Emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the fire and promised to hold accountable those who were responsible.

Citing an Egyptian man who works as a driver in Kuwait and survived the fire, Reuters reported that the fire started on a lower floor and that those on higher levels were unable to escape.

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