Kuwait fire: India sending C-130J aircraft to bring back mortal remains of Indians

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Sing visits the injured.
Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Sing visits the injured.

New Delhi | India on Thursday night is sending a military transport aircraft to Kuwait to bring back mortal remains of over 40 Indians killed in a devastating fire in a building housing foreign workers in southern Kuwait.

Kuwaiti authorities said they identified bodies of 45 Indians and three Filipino nationals killed in the fire. At least 49 migrant workers were killed and 50 others injured in the blaze.

Officials in Delhi said the C-130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force will bring back bodies on Friday and it will first land in Kochi as most of the deceased Indians are from Kerala.

The aircraft is then expected to reach Delhi as some of the Indians killed are from a few north Indian states, they said.

Kuwaiti authorities have already conducted DNA tests on the bodies as part of the identification process.

Kuwaiti Fire Force said the deadly fire was caused by an "electrical circuit".

In a press statement, it said the conclusion was arrived at after examination of the scene of the incident, Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah, serving as the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defence, said that authorities have identified 48 bodies, among which 45 are of Indians and three are of Filipino nationality, English language daily Arab Times reported.

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who reached Kuwait this morning, separately met the Gulf nation's foreign minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, Al-Sabah and Health Minister Ahmad Abdelwahab Ahmad Al-Awadi.

The Indian embassy in Kuwait said Foreign Minister Al-Yahya assured of full support including for medical care, early repatriation of mortal remains and investigation into the incident.

"FM Yahya conveyed his condolences on the tragic incident. He assured full support including for medical care, early repatriation of mortal remains and investigation of the incident," the mission said on X.

"MoS conveyed his appreciation for the cooperation being extended by all concerned authorities of Kuwait," it said.

Singh also visited Mubarak Al Kabeer hospital and Jaber hospital where several injured Indians are admitted.

In the meeting with Singh, the Kuwaiti health minister briefed him on steps taken to ensure speedy recovery of Indians under his "personal supervision", according to the Indian embassy.

"In an unfortunate and tragic fire incident earlier today in a Labour housing facility in Mangaf area of Kuwait, around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured," the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement late on Wednesday night.

Last night, Prime Minister Modi reviewed the situation at a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Principal Secretary to PM PK Mishra among others.

Following the meeting, the prime minister announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund and directed that the government should extend all possible assistance.

The External Affairs Minister spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on 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 on Wednesday night.

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

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

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.

Interior Minister Al-Sabah ordered an investigation into the fire incident and issued directions to apprehend the owner and janitor of Al-Mangaf building.

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