Tragedy Strikes: 49 Lives Lost in Kuwait Building Blaze

Tragedy Strikes: 49 Lives Lost in Kuwait Building Blaze

Footage shared on social media showed huge flames and black smoke coming out of the building as fire fighters attempted to control the blaze

Forty-nine people, including 42 Indian nationals, were killed and dozens more injured on Wednesday in a devastating fire in a building in southern Kuwait housing foreign workers, with local authorities detaining the building’s owner as part of an investigation into potential negligence.

The fire in Al-Mangaf building, a residence for workers, was reported to authorities in Al-Ahmadi governorate at 4.30am and most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation while the residents were asleep, Kuwaiti media reported.

Kuwait’s interior ministry put the death toll at 49. People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that 42 Indians were among the dead. The rest of the dead were from Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines, they said.

NBTC group, an engineering and construction firm partially owned by an Indian national, had rented the building to house more than 195 workers, most of them Indians from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and some northern states. Those who died ranged in age between 20 and 50 years, and a majority of the Indian who died or were injured were from Kerala, the people said.

More than 50 people were injured and officials took some time to gather details about the casualties as the dead and injured were taken to several hospitals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting at his official residence to review the incident and directed the government to extend all possible assistance to the victims. He announced ex gratia relief of ₹2 lakh to the families of the dead Indian nationals from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, an official statement said.

Minister of state for external affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh was directed by Modi to travel to Kuwait to oversee relief measures and to facilitate the expeditious repatriation of the bodies of the dead. The people said Singh is expected to leave for Kuwait early on Thursday.

Modi also expressed his deep sorrow at the unfortunate incident and extended condolences to the families of the dead. He also wished for the speedy recovery of the injured.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar, MoS Singh, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra, and other senior officials attended the meeting.

The Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences to the families of the victims. He directed authorities to ascertain the cause of the fire and to hold those responsible accountable.

Earlier, Jaishankar expressed shock at the deaths in the fire incident in Kuwait in a post on X. “Deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives…Our Embassy will render the fullest assistance to all concerned in this regard,” he said.

Oil-rich Kuwait has large numbers of foreign workers, many of them from South and Southeast Asia, and mostly working in construction or service industries. The Indian community, with a strength of about one million, is the largest expatriate community in Kuwait. A large proportion consists of unskilled and semi-skilled workers

The Indian ambassador to Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, visited the site of the fire to gather information. Swaika also visited three hospitals where the injured were taken and assured them of the full support of Indian authorities.

Eleven injured Indians were taken to Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital, and 10 of them were released later in the day. Six more injured people were taken to Farwaniya Hospital, and four of them were subsequently released while one was shifted to Jahra Hospital. More than 30 injured Indians were taken to Al-Adan Hospital, and officials said most of them were in a stable condition.

Footage shared on social media showed huge flames and black smoke coming out of the building as firefighters attempted to control the blaze.

The Indian embassy said in a post on X that it is in touch with Kuwaiti law enforcement, fire service and health authorities for necessary action and emergency medical care.

Kuwait’s interior minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah, who visited the scene of the fire, said the building’s owner was detained in an investigation into potential negligence. He also ordered police to apprehend the owner of the company responsible for the workers living in the building.

“What happened today is a result of the greed of company and building owners,” Al-Sabah was quoted as saying by Kuwait Times.

Kuwait’s public prosecutor launched an investigation to uncover the circumstances behind the incident and the cause of the fire, state-run KUNA news agency reported.

The interior minister also ordered the Kuwait municipality and the public authority for manpower to take immediate action to address similar violations where large numbers of workers are crammed into one residential building, and to ensure that all safety requirements are in place to prevent similar incidents.

Saud Al-Dabbous, director general of the Kuwait Municipality, issued orders to suspend several officials, including the deputy director general for Al-Ahmadi governorate, the acting director of Al-Ahmadi municipality, the director of the audit and engineering department, and the head of the violations removal department.

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