Kuwait's Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya assures full support to Indians affected in fire, vows prompt probe

Kuwaiti minister gave this assurance as Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who is here to oversee relief efforts and meet the injured, called on him.
Last Updated : 13 June 2024, 12:44 IST

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Dubai/Kuwait City: 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 that killed 49 people, including about 40 Indians.

The Kuwaiti minister gave this assurance as Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who is here to oversee relief efforts and meet the injured, called on him.

"MoS @KVSinghMPGonda called on FM of Kuwait H E Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya in Kuwait. FM Yahya conveyed his condolences on the tragic incident. He assured full support including for medical care, early repatriation of mortal remains and investigation of the incident," the Embassy of India in Kuwait posted on X.

Singh on Thursday met some of the Indians injured in a massive fire and assured them all support from the Indian government.

At least 49 foreign workers were killed and 50 others injured in the fire on Wednesday at the seven-storey building housing 196 migrant workers in the southern city of Mangaf.

"On the directions of PM @narendramodi ji, MoS @KVSinghMPGonda arrived in Kuwait and immediately rushed to Jaber Hospital to ascertain well-being of injured Indians in the fire incident yesterday. He met the 6 injured admitted at the hospital. All of them are safe," the Indian mission posted on X.

He visited Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital in Kuwait where 7 injured Indians have been admitted. "MoS ascertained their well-being & assured them of all support from GoI. He also appreciated hospital authorities, doctors and nurses for taking good care of the Indians," the mission said.

Kuwaiti authorities are conducting DNA tests on the bodies of those killed in the devastating fire incident in southern Kuwait's Mangaf area and an IAF aircraft is on standby to bring back the mortal remains of Indians killed in the incident, officials said in New Delhi on Thursday.

"In an unfortunate and tragic fire incident earlier today in a Labour housing facility in the Mangaf area of Kuwait, around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement late on Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Modi, who described the incident as "saddening", reviewed the situation at a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra among others.

Following the meeting, the prime minister announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund and directed that the government should extend all possible assistance.

The External Affairs Minister spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart on the phone on Wednesday and urged him for the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those killed.

"Spoke to Kuwaiti FM Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the fire tragedy in Kuwait. Apprised of the efforts made by Kuwaiti authorities in that regard. Was assured that the incident would be fully investigated and that responsibility will be fixed," said on 'X'.

"Urged the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those who lost their lives. He emphasized that those injured were getting the requisite medical attention," he had said.

The officials had said most of the Indian victims were from Kerala.

The fire erupted just after 4:00 am when the majority of the 196 all-men residents of the building were asleep. It resulted in huge thick clouds of black smoke that led to the suffocation of most of the victims, according to officials from the Interior Ministry and the fire department.

Those injured are presently admitted to five government hospitals (Adan, Jaber, Farwaniya, Mubarak Al Kabeer and Jahra hospitals) in Kuwait and receiving proper medical care and attention. According to hospital authorities, most of the admitted patients are stable.

Following the incident, the Ambassador of India in Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, immediately visited the location of the incident and also the hospitals to ascertain the welfare of the Indian nationals.

The Embassy continues to coordinate with local authorities to assist Indian nationals who have been injured in this unfortunate incident and extend all possible support. The Embassy is receiving full cooperation from the Kuwaiti authorities.

Deputy Premier, Defence and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah ordered the arrest of the Kuwaiti landlord of the building and the Egyptian guard of the building and warned officials not to release them without his permission.

The minister told reporters that the fire was a catastrophe, adding that from Thursday, teams from the municipality will begin inspecting all buildings and have the authority to remove any violation without any warning.

He said authorities would also start from Thursday to study the issue of overcrowding of expat workers in buildings and the failure to comply with safety conditions.

The public prosecution has started an investigation into the fire to uncover the circumstances behind the incident and what might have triggered the deadly inferno, it said on X, praising the state-wide response to the disaster.

There has been no official word on how the blaze started or what caused it. Some local media reported that it could be a gas leak from the building’s ground floor.

Head of investigations at Kuwait Fire Department Col Sayed Al-Mousawi said that the team investigating the causes of the fire found that an inflammable material was used as partitions between apartments and also between rooms, which caused the huge black clouds of smoke.

He said that many of the victims suffocated while trying to run down the stairs because they were filled with smoke, adding that the victims could not go to the rooftop because the door was locked.

Published 13 June 2024, 12:44 IST

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