Kuwait Fire: IAF’s C-130J Brings Back Bodies of 45 Indian Victims;

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A devastating fire in a building housing foreign workers in Kuwait’s Mangaf resulted in the deaths of 45 Indians and three Filipino nationals. The Indian Air Force’s C-130J aircraft has repatriated the bodies of the Indian victims to Kochi. Preliminary investigations have revealed significant safety violations that contributed to the disaster. Here are the latest updates:

Repatriation of Bodies

A special Indian Air Force aircraft, C-130J, carrying the mortal remains of 45 Indian victims from the fire incident in Kuwait’s Mangaf, took off for Kochi early Friday morning. Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who coordinated with Kuwaiti authorities for swift repatriation, is also onboard the aircraft, the Indian embassy said.

Key Findings of the Investigation

1. Presence of Gas Cylinders:

  • Around two dozen gas cylinders were stored on the ground floor of the seven-story building. The kitchen was located on this floor, where the probable cause of the fire, a short circuit, occurred.

2. Inflammable Materials:

  • The building used highly inflammable materials such as paper, cardboard, and plastic to partition the cramped rooms. These materials exacerbated the spread of the fire.

3. Locked Roof Door:

  • The doors to the rooftop were locked, preventing workers from escaping. This trapped many individuals in the inferno as the fire quickly spread and smoke filled the rooms.

Casualties and Survivor Accounts

Kuwaiti authorities have confirmed that 45 of the 49 deceased were Indians, with three from the Philippines. One body remains unidentified. About 50 others were injured in the blaze, which occurred in a building housing 196 migrant workers in Mangaf, south of Kuwait City.

Immediate Response and Coordination

1. Indian Government’s Actions:

  • పేపర్‌డబ్బా | paperdabba
    Mos external affairs kirti vardhan singh meets an injured indian at a hospital in kuwait pti

    Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, accompanied by Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Adarsh Swaika, met survivors and senior Kuwaiti officials. Singh assured the injured of full support from the Indian government.

2. Repatriation of Bodies:

  • The IAF’s C-130J aircraft will first land in Kochi as most victims are from Kerala. The aircraft is then expected to proceed to Delhi for the remaining victims from other states.

3. Financial Assistance:

  • Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah has ordered the distribution of financial assistance to the families of the deceased, though the exact amount has not been disclosed. MA Yusuff Ali, chairman of UAE-based Lulu Group, announced a relief fund of ₹5 lakh for each family of the deceased Indian victims.

Legal and Safety Measures

1. Arrests and Accountability:

  • పేపర్‌డబ్బా | paperdabba
    Deputy prime minister and minister of defense and acting interior minister fahad yusuf al sabah speaks with kuwaiti police officers in front of a burnt building following a deadly fire in mangaf southern kuwait reuters

    Deputy Premier, Defence and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah ordered the arrest of the Kuwaiti landlord and the Egyptian guard of the building. He emphasized that they should not be released without his permission.

2. Inspection and Enforcement:

  • Authorities have begun cracking down on building violations. Sheikh Fahad announced that municipal teams would start inspecting all buildings and remove any violations without prior warning. This includes addressing illegal modifications that compromise safety, as seen in the fire incident.

State-specific Updates

  • Kerala: According to the Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs (NORKA) help desk in Kuwait, 24 Malayalees were among the deceased, with 22 identified so far.
  • Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu’s Minister for Minorities Welfare and Non-Resident Tamils Welfare, Gingee KS Masthan, confirmed that seven residents from Tamil Nadu were killed in the fire. The deceased have been identified as Veerasamy Mariappan of Thoothukudi, E Raju of Tiruchirappalli, Krishnamurthy Chinnadurai of Cuddalore, Sivasankaran Govindan of Royapuram, Chennai, P Richard of Thanjavur, Karuppannan Ramu of Ramanathapuram, and Mohamed Sharif of Villupuram.
  • Andhra Pradesh: The government identified three deceased workers from the state: T Lokanandam from Srikakulam district, M Satyanarayana, and M Eshwarudu from West Godavari district.
  • Uttar Pradesh: The government identified three of the 45 Indians killed in the tragedy: Praveen Madhav Singh of Varanasi, Jairam Gupta, and Angad Gupta of Gorakhpur.

Continued Efforts and Monitoring

The Indian Embassy in Kuwait and the Ministry of External Affairs are continuing to monitor the situation closely. They are working with local authorities to ensure the safe return of the injured and provide necessary assistance to those affected.

This tragic incident underscores the need for stringent safety regulations and adherence to building codes. The revelations of safety lapses highlight the importance of proactive measures to prevent such disasters in the future. The coordinated efforts of Indian and Kuwaiti authorities aim to provide immediate relief and ensure accountability for the lapses that led to this catastrophe. The financial assistance announced by both the Indian government and private entities like Lulu Group aims to alleviate the immediate burdens faced by the bereaved families. The proactive response and continuous updates reflect the commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of those impacted by the fire.

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