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Tragic Fire in Kuwait Claims Lives of 49 Indian Workers: A Comprehensive Report - In Bulletin

 A devastating fire that swept through a six-storey building housing foreign workers in Kuwait has claimed the lives of 49 Indian nationals. The blaze, which broke out at dawn on Monday in the Mangaf area south of Kuwait City, has left the Indian community and the broader expatriate workers in shock.


Tragic Fire in Kuwait Claims Lives of 49 Indian Workers: A Comprehensive Report - In Bulletin


Incident Overview

More than 50 others were injured in the fire, which quickly engulfed the lower floors of the building. Black smoke seen comming out of the upper-storey windows as flames raged below. The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry initially reported 35 deaths, later revising the total to 49 after forensic teams examined the site.


Victims and Casualties

The health minister, Ahmad al-Awadhi, confirmed that hospitals had received 56 injured individuals. The six-storey building, which housed 196 workers, primarily Indians, became a death trap as smoke suffocated many of the residents. The majority of the deceased were Indian nationals aged between 20 and 50, who worked for a private company.


Eyewitness Accounts

Eyewitnesses described scenes of horror covered in black suffocating smoke. One particularly distressing incident involved a resident who, in a desperate attempt to escape the building, jumped from the fifth floor, tragically striking the balcony's edge. These stories of courage and tragedy have resonated deeply within the community.


Official Responses and Investigations

In the aftermath of a devastating fire, Kuwait's Interior Minister, Sheikh Fahd Al-Yousef, announced the detention of the building’s owner on potential negligence charges. He emphasized that properties violating safety regulations would be closed immediately. "We will address the issue of labor overcrowding and neglect," he stated, promising thorough investigations and legal procedures. Kuwaiti prosecutors have also remanded one citizen and several residents in custody on accusations of manslaughter due to safety negligence at the building. The Ministry of External Affairs of India highlighted that 176 workers lived in the building, underscoring the severe overcrowding and poor living conditions faced by many foreign workers in the Gulf.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on social media, describing the disaster as "saddening" and assuring that the Indian embassy in Kuwait had set up an emergency helpline for updates. India's foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and minister of state for external affairs, Kirti Vardhan Singh, coordinated assistance efforts and the safe return of the deceased.


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Healthcare and Emergency Response

The injured were distributed across several hospitals, with 21 admitted to Al-Adan Hospital, 11 to Mubarak Hospital, six to Farwaniya Hospital, and one to Al-Amiri. Brigadier General Muhammad Al-Gharib of the General Fire Force reported that the fire was quickly brought under control, but most deaths were due to smoke inhalation as residents were sleeping at the time.


Government and Diplomatic Efforts

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah, ordered an investigation into the fire and vowed to hold those responsible accountable. Crown Prince Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah also expressed their condolences and wished for the speedy recovery of the injured.


India's Prime Minister chaired a review meeting with senior officials, including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The PM of India  announced relief of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the deceased Indian nationals from PM Cares funds.


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Repatriation of Bodies

The bodies of 45 Indians were flown to India in Indian Air Force Carrier, where bereaved relatives gathered at the airport to receive them. Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called the accident a "national tragedy," emphasizing the importance of migrant workers to the state’s economy.


Conclusion

This tragic incident underscores the conditions faced by foreign workers in Kuwait and other Gulf states. The fire has not only highlighted the living conditions but also the need for safety regulations and enforcement. The international community, along with Indian authorities, continues to monitor the situation closely, ensuring that justice is served and support is provided to the affected families.


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