Kuwait fire: Forty Indians were among 49 killed when fire swept through an apartment building

Comment on the photo, Many of the building’s residents were from Kerala and Tamil Nadu

  • author, Robert Greenall
  • Role, London

The Indian Foreign Ministry said that at least 40 Indians were among 49 people killed in a fire that broke out in a residential building in the Kuwaiti city of Mangaf.

The fire broke out on Wednesday in a building housing dozens of workers.

A video clip circulated on social media showed flames sweeping the lower part of the building and thick black smoke billowing from the upper floors.

Authorities said many of the victims were from the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. About 50 Indians were also injured.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent his condolences to the victims and their families.

“The fire incident in Kuwait City is sad,” he said on Channel X.

“My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones and dear ones. I pray that those affected recover as soon as possible.”

He added that the Indian embassy is monitoring the situation and working with authorities on the ground.

Kirti Vardhan Singh, a minister of state in the government who left for Kuwait on Thursday morning, said that DNA tests had been conducted to identify the victims.

“An Air Force plane is on standby. Once the bodies are identified, their relatives will be informed and the Air Force plane will return the bodies,” he told news agency ANI.

Comment on the photo, The fire swept through the lower floors of the building

Sheikh Al-Sabah, who is also acting Minister of Interior, told Reuters news agency, “Unfortunately, it was the greed of real estate owners that led to this.”

“They are violating the regulations and this is the result of the violations.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Eid Al-Owaihan told state television that the fire was reported at 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Wednesday. It was later controlled.

An eyewitness, Manikandan, from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, told the BBC that many of the workers were working night shifts.

He added, “Some of those who returned to that apartment early in the morning were cooking food after returning from work.”

“Once the fire started, it spread quickly. The people living in the building were unable to control the fire.”

Comment on the photo, Pictures from the scene show the building damaged by the fire

Local media reports say the building was housing 196 workers, and there are suggestions it may have been overcrowded.

A senior police officer told state television that there were a “large number” of people in the building at the time of the fire.

“Dozens were rescued, but unfortunately many died as a result of inhaling smoke from the fire,” he added, adding that warnings were often issued about overcrowding in this type of accommodation.

Human rights groups have regularly expressed concern about their living conditions.

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