33 more Indian nationals are receiving medical treatment in five hospitals in Kuwait
In a tragic incident, at least 45 Indian nationals lost their lives in a massive fire that broke out in a labour accommodation in Kuwait's Mangaf locality on June 12, 2024. The incident has left the Indian community in deep mourning as the mortal remains of the deceased were transported back to India by a special Indian Air Force plane. The mortal remains arrived at Cochin International Airport on Friday (June 14, 2024), where they were received in a sombre ceremony.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who travelled to Kuwait following the incident, accompanied the bodies on the flight back to India. The fire claimed victims from various Indian states: 23 from Kerala, seven from Tamil Nadu, three from Andhra Pradesh, and one each from Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab, and West Bengal.

Floral tributes were paid to the bodies of the victims upon their arrival in Cochin. In addition to Singh, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi, and other political leaders were present to honour the deceased.

According to the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, the Mangaf building housed 176 Indian workers. While 45 of them perished in the devastating fire, 33 are receiving medical treatment in five hospitals. The rest of them are reported to be safe.

News reports said the Kuwaiti Fire Force had attributed the tragic fire to an electrical circuit malfunction. The blaze, which was first reported to authorities at 4:30 am on Wednesday, resulted in numerous fatalities, primarily due to smoke inhalation. The fire is believed to have originated in a kitchen, rapidly spreading through the seven-story apartment building.

Kuwaiti authorities completed DNA testing on the deceased before handing over their remains to Indian officials for repatriation.

The impact of the tragedy has been deeply felt across India, with families mourning the loss of their loved ones. According to news reports, Lokanandam, a worker from Andhra Pradesh, tragically died on the same day he returned to Kuwait from India after participating in recent elections. Santosh Kumar Gouda and Muhammad Jahur from Odisha, who were working for a private company in Kuwait, also lost their lives in the fire. Jahur's family revealed that he had been married for only two years and his wife was seven months pregnant.

Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan acknowledged the efforts of both the Government of India and the Kuwaiti authorities in their prompt response to the disaster. "It is a never-ending loss for the families. The Government of Kuwait has taken effective and impeccable measures," he stated to the media.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a review meeting on the fire tragedy on Wednesday (June 12, 2024), extending his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wishing a speedy recovery for the injured. The Prime Minister directed the Government of India to extend all possible assistance, including immediate travel of the Minister of State for External Affairs to Kuwait to oversee relief measures and facilitate the repatriation of mortal remains.

The Prime Minister announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the Prime Minister Relief Fund. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of State Singh, and other senior officials were present at the review meeting.

The Indian Embassy in Kuwait has been actively involved in providing support to the affected families. Minister of State Singh visited the hospitals where the injured Indian nationals are undergoing treatment. He assured that the hospital authorities are taking exceptional care of the injured, and most of them are expected to be discharged within a few days. 

"The Kuwaiti authorities are very sensitive and concerned about the incident. They have assured us that all steps will be taken to prevent such unfortunate incidents in the future," Singh stated.