Mangaf inferno: MoS Kirti Vardhan Singh reaches Kuwait to ensure early repatriation of mortal remains of victims

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan requested the Centre's intervention in the Kuwait fire incident which claimed over 40 lives, including several Malayalis.

ByPTI

Published Jun 13, 2024 | 10:16 AM Updated Jun 13, 2024 | 2:04 PM

Adarsh Swaika, Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, visiting the injured at Jahra Hospital. (India in Kuwait/X)

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh on Thursday, 13 June, reached Kuwait to oversee the assistance to those injured in a massive fire at an apartment housing foreign workers and for the early repatriation of the bodies of about 40 Indians killed in the tragic incident.

At least 49 foreign workers were killed and 50 others injured in the fire on Wednesday at the seven-storey building housing 195 migrant workers in the southern city of Mangaf.

“On the directions of Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi, MoS@KVSinghMPGonda arrives in Kuwait to oversee assistance to those injured in fire tragedy & coordinate with local authorities for early repatriation of mortal remains of those who have died in this unfortunate incident,” the Embassy of India in Kuwait posted on X.

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.

On Wednesday night, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya and urged him to ensure early repatriation of the mortal remains of those killed in the devastating fire.

Around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured in the blaze in a building housing around 195 migrant workers, officials said.

“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,” Jaishankar said on ‘X’.

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

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.

Related: Several Indians killed in Kuwait apartment fire

Kerala CM writes to Jaishankar

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh is urgently travelling to Kuwait following a direction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi primarily to oversee assistance to Indians injured in the fire and to ensure early repatriation of mortal remains of those killed.

How to reach the Indian Embassy? Click on the image to enlarge.

How to reach the Indian Embassy? Click on the image to enlarge.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar seeking the Centre’s intervention in the Kuwait fire incident which claimed over 40 lives, including several Malayalis.

Terming the incident as “utmost painful”, Vijayan condoled the loss of lives in the tragedy.

In a brief message, he said that among the people reportedly killed in the mishap, some were believed to be Malayalees.

In his letter, Vijayan said that he came across reports that a fire had broken out in a camp — known as NBTC camp — in Mangaf, Kuwait and many Indians, including some from Kerala, have lost their lives.

The CM also said that according to the reports, many have suffered serious injuries in the “unfortunate incident”.

“I request your good self to give necessary directions to the Indian Embassy to coordinate relief and rescue operations by getting in touch with the Government of Kuwait,” Vijayan said in his letter to Jaishankar.

Loka Kerala Sabha conference cancelled

The Kerala government also decided to cancel the Loka Kerala Sabha’s inaugural conference, seminar and related programmes on Thursday in view of the Kuwait fire incident and resultant loss of lives, a statement issued by the CM’s office late in the night said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing a meeting to review the situation in the wake of the fire mishap in Kuwait. (Narendra Modi/X)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing a meeting to review the situation in the wake of the fire mishap in Kuwait. (Narendra Modi/X)

The Sabha’s conferences on June 14 and 15 will be held as scheduled, but there will be no celebrations, the statement said.

The move comes after Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala called for cancelling the Loka Kerala Sabha in view of the tragedy.

The CM’s office issued another statement about the Global Contact Centre set up in N0RKA Roots to provide emergency assistance in connection with the fire incident and a help desk that has been opened in Kuwait, both on Vijayan’s instructions.

The second statement also said that all efforts were being made to bring the bodies of the deceased back home as soon as possible and the CM has directed all concerned to intervene to make it possible.

Over 40 people, majority of them Indians, were killed in a devastating fire in a building housing labourers in southern Kuwait, central government officials said on Wednesday.

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

Construction firm NBTC group rented the building for the stay of more than 195 workers, most of them Indians from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and northern states, the Kuwaiti media said.

TN govt launches helplines

It is being ascertained if Tamils were among those killed in Kuwait fire, the Tamil Nadu government said on Wednesday.

Citing information on the death of ‘approximately 49 persons,’ in Kuwait fire incident, the state government said in an official release that it is gathering relevant information related to the victims of blaze.

If Tamils were among injured, necessary medical assistance should be provided by getting information on them, Chief Minsiter M K Stalin has directed the Commissionerate of Rehabilitation and Welfare of Non Resident Tamils.

Also, the state government has provided the Commissionerate’s helpline numbers of +91 1800 309 3793 (within India) and +91 80 6900 9900, +91 80 6900 9901 (for calls from abroad).

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