India's federal Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh meets an Indian who was injured in the Mangaf fire incident, at Jaber Hospital, in Kuwait on Thursday. Image Credit: ANI

Cairo: Kuwait has launched a clampdown on buildings violations after a fire hit a building leaving 49 people dead, one of the worst in the country’s history.

The blaze broke out at dawn on Wednesday inside the six-floor building in Mangaf area in southern Kuwait. Most fatalities are Indian workers, according to Kuwaiti media.

The high death toll was due to inflammable partitions separating apartments and rooms in the building inhabited by foreign workers, and the closure of its rooftop, making it difficult for the residents to escape from the fire, according to chief of fire investigations Col. Sayyed Hassan.

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India’s Minister of State of the Foreign Ministery Kirti Vardhan Singh arrived in Kuwait Thursday and visited his compatriots who were injured in the Mangaf blaze.

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Still unclear

The nationalities of those who died were not immediately disclosed by authorities. India’s ambassador visited hospitals where workers were being treated for injuries sustained in the fire.

At one hospital, more than 30 Indian citizens were admitted, the embassy wrote on social media, adding that at least 47 workers had received treatment in hospitals.

Kuwaiti security forces gather outside a building which was ingulfed by fire. Image Credit: AFP

Several Indians, including from the southern state of Kerala, were reported to have died in the fire, according to a letter written by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to India’s foreign minister that was shared with the press.

A government agency for Keralites living outside the state said it had been told by the Indian community in Kuwait that 41 Indians, including two dozen from Kerala, had died in the fire.

Ambassador of India to Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, visits Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital, where 11 workers injured in the fire have been admitted, in Kuwait. Image Credit: ANI

Inspection campaigns started on Thursday in several areas of the country led by Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Fahad Al Yousef.

He was joined by Minister of Public Works Nora Al Mashaan and officials from the Interior Ministry, the Kuwait Municipality, the Fire Service as well as the ministry of electricity and the Public Authority of Manpower.

The government agencies, engaged in the large-scale clampdown, have started posting warnings on the violating buildings in a step to take the necessary legal measures.

Al Yousef stressed the importance of efforts to eliminate violations. “We don’t need more laws as much as we need a clear conscience,” he said, vowing that any law impeding the campaign will be modified.

While inspecting the site of the fire Wednesday Al Yousef ordered the arrest of the owner of the ill-fated building and its arrest, and warned against releasing them without his permission.

Likewise, senior municipal officials in Al Ahmadi governorate administratively overseeing Mangaf were suspended from duty pending the completion of investigations into the tragedy.


A source in the fire department said the victims suffocated from rising smoke after the fire started at the building’s base.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had previously called the disaster “saddening” in a post on social media platform X.

“My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones,” wrote Modi, as the Indian embassy in Kuwait set up an emergency helpline for updates.

India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar posted that he was “deeply shocked by the news” and offered “deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives”.

He spokes on the phone with his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Al Yahya who “expressed the condolences of the leadership, government and people of the State of Kuwait”, the foreign ministry statement said.

Al Yahya also “called for a speedy recovery for those injured as a result of this painful disaster” and said Kuwaiti authorities were “harnessing all their capabilities” to assist them, it added.

Interior Minister Sheikh Fahd said the building’s owner had been detained for potential negligence, adding any properties violating safety regulations would be closed immediately.

Transporting the remains

“We will work to address the issue of labour overcrowding and neglect,” he said. “We will detain the owner of the property where the fire broke out until legal procedures are completed.”

l Yahya said Kuwait is coordinating with India to repatriate remains of the Indians. He added that he met Kirti Vardhan Singh for talks on the transport of the remains.

“We are cooperative with them in every way. He’ll meet with the (Kuwaiti) ministers of the interior and health.

An Indian plane will transport the remains after measures are completed. Kuwaiti aircraft are also ready.”

Al Yahya said he and the Kuwaiti health minister had visited the hospitalised injured victims, noting that most of them are in stable condition.

The blaze is one of the worst seen in Kuwait, which borders Iraq and Saudi Arabia and sits on about seven percent of the world’s oil reserves.

In 2009, 57 people died when a Kuwaiti woman, apparently seeking revenge, set fire to a tent at a wedding party when her husband married a second wife.

Nusra Al Enezi threw petrol on the tent and set it alight as people celebrated inside. She was hanged in 2017 for the crime, whose victims included many women and children.
- Inpus from agencies