• Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Tragic Fire in Kuwait Claims Lives of 46 Indian Workers, Bodies Returned Home

In a devastating incident, a massive fire broke out on Wednesday at a residential building in Mangaf city, Kuwait, claiming the lives of 50 people. Among the deceased, 46 were Indian workers, and three were from the Philippines, while one body remain unidentified. The Indian Air Force has repatriated the bodies of the Indian victims, which arrived in Kochi  on Friday morning.

The fire, which started due to an electrical short circuit in the security guard’s room on the ground floor of the six-story building, has left dozens injured, primarily Indian workers. The building housed 176 Indian workers, many of whom have sustained serious injuries.

Union Minister Kirti Vardhan Singh traveled to Kuwait following the incident to oversee the identification and repatriation of the victims. DNA tests were conducted to confirm the identities of the deceased. The breakdown of the victims includes 23 from Kerala, seven from Tamil Nadu, three each from Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, two from Odisha, and one each from Bihar, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Haryana.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with other state officials, received the bodies at Kochi airport and paid homage to the deceased. “This is a huge tragedy for our country. Kerala’s migrant workers are the lifeblood of our state. The fire in Kuwait is one of the biggest tragedies to affect our community,” Mr. Vijayan remarked. Both state and federal governments have announced compensation for the families of the victims.

In Kuwait, authorities are conducting inspections of health and safety conditions in several buildings housing foreign workers. The Arab Times reported that the fire was exacerbated by the use of inflammable materials as partitions within the building. Kuwait’s Public Prosecution department has detained a citizen and several expatriates on charges of manslaughter and negligence for failing to implement fire safety measures. Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf al-Sabah blamed property owners’ greed and violations of building standards for the tragedy.

The incident has brought to light the perilous living conditions of foreign workers in Kuwait. Human rights groups have consistently raised concerns over their living conditions, and this tragedy underscores the urgent need for reform.

As India mourns the loss of its citizens, the tragedy highlights the significant contributions and sacrifices of migrant workers who form the backbone of the economies in Gulf countries. The Indian government’s swift action in bringing back the bodies and providing support to the families is a small solace in the face of such a monumental loss.

Photo credit: @iprdkerala

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