MoS Kirti Vardhan Singh reaches Kuwait to aid injured, ensure repatriation of bodies

Kirti Vardhan Singh
MoS for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh meets Indians injured in the fire incident. Photo: PTI.

Dubai/Kuwait City: Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh On Thursday arrived in Kuwait to oversee the aid efforts for those injured in a massive fire at an apartment housing foreign workers. He will also facilitate the early repatriation of the bodies of approximately 42 Indians who perished in the tragic incident.
The fire, which occurred on Wednesday in a seven-storey building in the southern city of Mangaf, claimed the lives of at least 49 foreign workers and injured 50 others. The building housed 195 migrant workers.

"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 incident and an IAF aircraft is on standby to bring back the mortal remains of Indians, officials said.

The External Affairs Minister spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the phone 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," 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 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 195 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. India's mission in Kuwait is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities over the incident.

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.
(With PTI Inputs)

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