News Brief

What Caused The Deadly Kuwait Fire That Killed 45 Indians? Preliminary Investigation Reveals Major Safety Violations

Kuldeep Negi

Jun 14, 2024, 10:26 AM | Updated 10:26 AM IST

45 Indians were killed in the deadly Kuwait fire
45 Indians were killed in the deadly Kuwait fire

Preliminary investigations into a devastating fire that claimed the lives of 45 Indian nationals in Kuwait have reportedly uncovered alarming safety violations.

Around two dozen gas cylinders were stored on the ground floor of the seven-story building, which also contained highly flammable materials such as paper, cardboard, and plastic used as partitions in cramped living quarters.

Additionally, the doors leading to the rooftop were locked, preventing workers from escaping to safety.

These details emerged as the Kuwaiti authorities began their probe into the incident that occurred early Wednesday (12 June) in an apartment building near Kuwait City.

Of the 49 fatalities, 45 have been identified as Indian nationals, while three were from the Philippines, and one body remains unidentified.

Around 50 others were injured in the blaze at the building, which housed 196 migrant workers in Mangaf, south of Kuwait City.

On Thursday (13 June), Minister of State Kirti Vardhan Singh, accompanied by Indian Ambassador Adarsh Swaika, met with some survivors and senior Kuwaiti officials.

The fire was likely caused by a short circuit on the ground floor, which was exacerbated by the presence of numerous gas cylinders stored in the kitchen area, Indian Express reported\ citing sources.

The fire spread rapidly due to the abundance of flammable materials, with smoke quickly filling the rooms on both the ground and upper floors.

Those in the upper floors tried to get to the terrace but the door to the rooftop was locked. This trapped the workers in the inferno.

Many buildings in the area reportedly have been internally modified to create more space, often in violation of Kuwait’s building codes, which hampered firefighters' access and efforts to control the blaze.

This tragic incident, one of the worst fires in an inhabited building in Kuwait, has led authorities to initiate a crackdown on builders and building owners.

The Indian embassy, in a post on social media platform X, said that Minister Singh met with Kuwait Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, who expressed condolences and assured full support, including medical care, the repatriation of mortal remains, and a thorough investigation.

Singh visited injured Indian nationals in hospitals, offering assurances of support from the Indian government.

Kuwaiti authorities conducted DNA tests on the deceased, and an Indian Air Force aircraft is repatriating the bodies.

In response to the tragedy, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah has directed the distribution of financial assistance to the victims' families and ordered the preparation of aircraft for repatriation of the mortal remains.

Additionally, Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah has ordered the arrest of the building's Kuwaiti landlord and an Egyptian guard, mandating that they remain in custody until further notice.

Local media reported that the minister described the fire as a catastrophe and announced that municipal teams would begin inspecting buildings and addressing violations immediately.

Kuwaiti Authorities also plan to examine the issue of overcrowded housing for expatriate workers and enforce compliance with safety regulations.

Also Read: Three Independent MLAs Who Backed BJP In Rajya Sabha Elections Now Party Candidates In Himachal Assembly Bypolls

Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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