India brings back bodies of 45 workers from Kuwait

Relatives mourn near the deceased after the coffins' arrival on an Indian Air Force plane from Kuwait at the Cochin International Airport in Kochi on June 14, 2024. Grieving families kept a solemn vigil in the terminal of an Indian airport on June 14 as the bodies of dozens of migrant workers killed in a Kuwait building fire returned home. Wednesday's dawn blaze quickly engulfed a housing block home to some of the many foreign labourers servicing the oil-rich gulf state's economyImage source, AFP
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Relatives mourn as coffins arrive from Kuwait on an Indian Air Force plane at Kochi

  • Published

An Indian Air Force flight has brought back the bodies of 45 workers who were killed in a fire in Kuwait.

The fire broke out on Wednesday at a residential building in Mangaf city where 176 Indian workers lived.

Kuwaiti authorities said 50 people were killed in the fire, including 45 from India and three from the Philippines. Two bodies are yet to be identified.

Dozens of workers, most of them Indian, have also been injured in the fire.

Two-thirds of the Kuwaiti population is made up of foreign workers and the country is highly dependent on migrant labour, especially in the construction and domestic sectors.

Human rights groups have regularly raised concerns over their living conditions.

Indian minister Kirti Vardhan Singh, who had gone to Kuwait after the incident, said DNA tests had been carried out to identify the victims.

Among the workers confirmed dead, 23 are from Kerala state, seven from Tamil Nadu, three each from Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, two from Odisha and one each from Bihar, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Haryana.

Mr Singh said the Indian government had arranged a special Air Force flight to bring back the bodies.

The flight landed in Kerala's Kochi city on Friday morning where the bodies of workers from southern Indian states were given to authorities, and then continued to Delhi.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other state lawmakers were at the airport to receive the bodies and pay homage to them.

"This is a huge tragedy for our country. Kerala's migrant workers are the lifeblood of our state. The fire in Kuwait is one of the biggest tragedies to affect our community," Mr Vijayan said.

The state and federal governments have announced compensation for the families of those who died in the fire.

Image source, AFP
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Nearly half of the workers who died in the blaze were from Kerala

In Kuwait, authorities say they are carrying out an inspection of health and safety conditions in several buildings that house foreign workers in the country.

According to the Arab Times, external, an investigation by authorities found that the fire started because of an electrical short circuit in the security guard’s room on the ground floor of the six-story building.

A senior Kuwait fire department official had on Wednesday said, external that inflammable material had been used as partitions between rooms and apartments in the building.

Kuwait's Public Prosecution department has detained a citizen and some expatriates on charges of manslaughter and negligence for not implementing fire safety measures, the Times reported.

After the fire, Sheikh Fahad Yusuf al-Sabah, the country's deputy prime minister, had accused property owners of greed and said violations of building standards had led to the tragedy.

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