Kuwait Fire Tragedy: Aircraft with Indian Victims’ Bodies Expected in Kochi

A special Air Force aircraft carrying the mortal remains of Indian nationals, including several Malayalis, who perished in the Kuwait fire disaster, is set to arrive in Kochi by 8:30 am. The aircraft departed from Kuwait at 1:15 am local time. Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan, along with other officials, is accompanying the bodies.

The tragic fire occurred on Wednesday in a residential building owned by NBTC, an expatriate Malayali, in Block 4 of Mangaf, Kuwait. Out of the 49 victims, 45 were Indians, including 24 Malayalis. The bodies of 31 of the 45 deceased will be brought to Cochin International Airport, after which the aircraft will continue to Delhi with the remaining bodies.

According to Norka officials, the bodies being brought to Kochi include 23 Malayalis, seven residents of Tamil Nadu, and one resident of Karnataka. Among the deceased is a native of Karunagappally, Kollam, who was a permanent resident of Mumbai. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other ministers will be present in Kochi to receive the bodies. The state government has arranged for ambulances to transport the bodies to their respective homes immediately upon arrival.

The aircraft will first land in Kochi as most of the deceased are from Kerala, before heading to Delhi for victims from northern states. Kuwaiti authorities have conducted DNA tests on the bodies to aid in identification. The Kuwaiti Fire Force has attributed the fire to an “electrical circuit” malfunction, according to the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defence, confirmed that authorities have identified 48 bodies, including 45 Indians and three Filipinos, as reported by the Arab Times. Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh, who arrived in Kuwait, met with Kuwait’s foreign minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, Al-Sabah, and Health Minister Ahmad Abdelwahab Ahmad Al-Awadi. The Indian embassy in Kuwait stated that Foreign Minister Al-Yahya assured full support, including medical care, early repatriation of mortal remains, and a thorough investigation into the incident.

Minister Singh also visited Mubarak Al Kabeer hospital and Jaber hospital, where several injured Indians are being treated. The Kuwaiti health minister briefed Singh on measures taken for the speedy recovery of the injured Indians under his “personal supervision.”

After a late-night meeting with Prime Minister Modi, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, and Principal Secretary to the PM PK Mishra, the Prime Minister announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased Indian nationals from the PM Relief Fund and directed all possible assistance.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar spoke with his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, urging the early repatriation of the mortal remains. “Spoke to Kuwaiti FM Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the fire tragedy in Kuwait. Was assured of a full investigation and that responsibility will be fixed,” Jaishankar said on X. “Urged early repatriation of the mortal remains and emphasized that the injured were receiving requisite medical attention.”

The fire in the Al-Mangaf building was reported at 4:30 am on Wednesday, with most deaths resulting from smoke inhalation. Kuwaiti media reported that the fire started in a kitchen. The NBTC group had rented the building for over 195 workers, primarily Indians from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and northern states. Interior Minister Al-Sabah has ordered an investigation into the fire and directed the apprehension of the building’s owner and janitor.

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