‘Negligence led to disaster’: 45 Indians, three Filipinos killed in massive building fire in Kuwait

Massive building fire in Kuwait.

A fire in a residential building in the Kuwaiti city of Mangaf has killed at least 45 Indians among a total of 50 victims, according to international media.

The blaze occurred on Wednesday in a building housing dozens of workers, with video footage showing flames consuming the lower floors and thick black smoke billowing from the upper levels. Most of the deceased were from Kerala and Tamil Nadu states of India. Around 50 Indians were also injured. Additionally, three Filipinos were killed, and Filipino and Nepali workers were among the injured.

Kuwait relies heavily on foreign labour, with two-thirds of its population consisting of migrant workers, particularly in construction and domestic work. Human rights organisations have frequently expressed concerns about their living conditions.

Reports indicate that the building, which housed 196 workers, may have been overcrowded. A senior police officer mentioned on state TV that many people were in the building during the fire, leading to multiple fatalities from smoke inhalation, despite numerous rescues. Authorities often warn against overcrowded accommodations, BBC reported.

Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad Yusuf al-Sabah attributed the tragedy to property owners’ greed and building standard violations, stating that such negligence led to this disaster. Kirti Vardhan Singh, an Indian junior minister, has arrived in Kuwait to oversee assistance efforts for the victims. The original death toll of 49 was updated to 50 after one person died overnight, as reported by Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi expressed condolences on X, offering prayers for the victims’ families and the injured. The Indian embassy is actively monitoring the situation and cooperating with local authorities. Kirti Vardhan Singh mentioned that DNA tests are being conducted to identify the victims, and an Air Force plane is ready to repatriate the bodies once identified. Among the victims, 24 were from Kerala and five from Tamil Nadu.

An eyewitness, Manikandan from Tamil Nadu, told BBC Tamil that many workers had returned from night shifts and were cooking when the fire broke out, spreading rapidly and overwhelming those in the building.

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