Shock, grief shroud kin of Kuwait blaze victims | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Shock, grief shroud kin of Kuwait blaze victims

By, Kochi
Jun 13, 2024 05:01 AM IST

At least 42 Indians, including Akash Nair from Kerala, died in a fire in southern Kuwait. Efforts are underway to identify and repatriate the victims.

When he was all of 23, Akash Sasidharan Nair had traveled to Kuwait from Pandalam in Kerala, carrying the hopes of his family with him. His father had died when he was 5, and his mother had provided for him and his elder sister from the small income she earned as a staff member at a local medical shop. They were expecting him home in August, with discussions of marriage gathering pace. But on Wednesday morning, they received news that tore their world apart—Nair was one of the Indians that had died in a devastating fire in southern Kuwait.

Rescuers arrive at the site of a building that caught fire in Kuwait, on Wednesday. At least 41 people died when a fire swept through a building that housed workers in Kuwait early Wednesday, and officials said the blaze appeared to be linked to code violations. (AP)
Rescuers arrive at the site of a building that caught fire in Kuwait, on Wednesday. At least 41 people died when a fire swept through a building that housed workers in Kuwait early Wednesday, and officials said the blaze appeared to be linked to code violations. (AP)

At least 42 Indian nationals were killed and dozens more injured in a devastating fire in a building in southern Kuwait which broke out on Wednesday morning. The fire in Al-Mangaf building, a residence for workers, was reported to authorities in Al-Ahmadi governorate at 4.30 am and most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation while the residents were asleep, Kuwaiti media reported. NBTC group, an engineering and construction firm owned by KG Abraham, a Malayali businessman, rented the building to house more than 195 workers, most of them Indians.

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Soumya Santhosh, the local municipal councillor who once gave tuition classes to Akash said, “From the information we received from Kuwait, Akash and his friend jumped out of the building together from a window near the stairwell. But while his friend survived, Akash died. His body has been identified and we are making efforts to bring it home.”

Sharafudheen Kanneth, president of the Kuwait chapter of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), who was at the site of the fire on Wednesday, said that at least 11 of the victims are from Kerala. “So far, 49 people have died out of which 11 are from the state of Kerala. The death toll is likely to go up as at least 196 people, mostly workers employed at NBTC, were residing in the building. We have been engaged in bringing out dead bodies from each floor following formalities and protocols. We are also checking hospitals and mortuaries to check the identities of people who have died and are injured so that we can inform their families back home,” said Kanneth.

Another once of the victims that have been identified is 32-year-old Ranjith, from the village of Bevinje in Kasargod’s Chengala panchayat.

P Sivaprasad, a ward member of the Chengala panchayat told HT, “We have got information that Ranjith unfortunately died in the fire. He had been working in Kuwait for the past decade and had come home a year ago when his family moved into a new house. The family is dependent on his income.”

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Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday wrote to external affairs minister S Jaishankar seeking the Centre’s intervention into the tragedy. “I request your good-self to give necessary directions to the Indian Embassy to coordinate relief and rescue operations by getting in touch with the Government of Kuwait,” Vijayan said in his letter to Jaishankar.

In a separate statement, Vijayan said, “The news of the deaths of over 40 people and injuries to many in the fire in Mangaf block in Kuwait is extremely saddening. There are reports that people from Kerala are among the dead. I join the families of the deceased at this tragic hour.”

Leader of opposition VD Satheesan also condoled the deaths and said, “I request all Malayali organisations in Kuwait to ensure that help, especially access to medical treatment reaches all those who are injured,” he said.

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