Kuwait fire tragedy: 49 dead, majority Indian workers

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Dozens killed in Kuwaiti building fire: “Unfortunately, there were many deaths as a result of inhaling smoke from the fire”

At least 49 people, including 40 Indians, died in a fire that broke out in a residential building in Mangaf, Kuwait, on Wednesday.

The Indian foreign ministry confirmed the fatalities, stating that the building housed many Indian workers.

The fire started early in the morning, and videos shared on social media showed flames engulfing the lower part of the building while thick black smoke billowed from the upper floors.

Authorities reported that the majority of the casualties were from the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Filipino and Nepali workers were also among the injured.

Causes and accusations

Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf al-Sabah blamed property owners’ greed for the tragedy, accusing them of violating building standards.

He stated: “They violate regulations and this is the result of the violations.” The building, housing 196 workers, was reportedly overcrowded, a concern often raised by human rights groups regarding the living conditions of migrant workers in Kuwait.

A senior police officer told state TV that warnings were frequently issued about overcrowding in such accommodations.

He said: “Dozens were rescued, but unfortunately there were many deaths as a result of inhaling smoke from the fire.”

Reactions and responses

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on social media, saying: “The fire mishap in Kuwait City is saddening.

My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones.

I pray that the injured recover at the earliest.”

India’s ambassador to Kuwait visited hospitals where the injured were being treated.

The Indian embassy stated that over 30 Indian citizens had been admitted to hospitals.

DNA tests are being conducted to identify the victims, and arrangements are being made to repatriate the bodies.

Investigations and future measures

Emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the fire, promising accountability for any officials found responsible.

The interior ministry confirmed that the death toll had risen to 49 and that they were working to identify the victims.

The fire was reported at 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT) and was later contained.

The senior police commander mentioned that many people had died from smoke inhalation and reiterated concerns about overcrowded living conditions for migrant workers in Kuwait.

IFSJ Comment

The tragic fire in Mangaf, Kuwait, highlights ongoing concerns about the living conditions of migrant workers in the Gulf region.

With a significant portion of Kuwait’s workforce comprising foreign labourers, particularly from South and Southeast Asia, this incident underscores the need for stricter enforcement of building safety regulations.

The accusations of greed and negligence by property owners, as pointed out by Kuwaiti officials, reflect systemic issues that require comprehensive policy changes.

Ensuring safe and adequate housing for workers is paramount to preventing such disasters in the future.

Additionally, the response from the Indian government, including the swift action to identify victims and repatriate bodies, demonstrates the critical role of diplomatic support in such crises.

However, it also raises questions about the responsibilities of host countries in safeguarding the well-being of their foreign workforce.

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