Kuwait: Over 40 Indians killed in fire at building housing migrant workers. MEA issues update

Around 40 Indians were killed and over 50 injured on early Wednesday morning in a fire that broke out in a building which housed over 195 migrant housing workers in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf area. The total number of people killed in the fire incident are 49, of which 42 are learnt to be Indians.

Remaining ones are Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals. As per officials, most of the Indian victims are from Kerala. Most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation and the fire started in a kitchen, Kuwaiti media reported. 

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an urgent meeting with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary VInay Kwatra and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra.

After this meeting, PM announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund. He also said the government should extend all possible assistance. The MEA further mentioned that the Indian embassy in Kuwait is ascertaining the full details of the incident from the Kuwaiti authorities.

“Those injured are presently admitted in 5 government hospitals (Adan, Jaber, Farwaniya, Mubarak Al Kabeer and Jahra) in Kuwait and receiving proper medical care and attention,” the statement mentioned. It added that as per the hospital authorities, most of the admitted patients are in a stable condition. 

Kuwait’s health ministry said the injured were admitted to several hospitals, with 21 of them sent to Al-Adan Hospital, six to Farwaniya Hospital, one to Al-Amiri and 11 to Mubarak Hospital.

Furthermore, Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Adarsh Swaika immediately visited the incident site and also the hospitals to ascertain the condition of those injured. Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh is also urgently travelling to Kuwait to oversee the assistance to Indians injured in the fire. Singh has been tasked to ensure early repatriation of mortal remains of those killed in the dastardly fire. 

Before leaving for Kuwait, MoS Kirti Vardhan Singh said, “The situation is that the victims are mostly burn victims and some of the bodies have been charred beyond recognition. A DNA test is underway to identify the victims. An Air Force plane is on the ready. As soon as the bodies are identified, the kin will be informed and our Air Force plane will bring the bodies back.”

The MEA also shared the helpline number through which family members of those affected can contact the embassy officials. “The Embassy has established a helpline +965-65505246 (WhatsApp and regular call) for family members to get in touch,” it said.

The Indian embassy said it is in touch with Kuwaiti law enforcement authorities, fire service and health department for necessary action. Interior Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah ordered an investigation into the fire incident and issued directions to apprehend the owner and janitor of Al-Mangaf building.

(With agency inputs)

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