India Returns 45 Nationals Killed in Kuwait Fire

 June 15, 2024

In a solemn homecoming, the bodies of 45 Indian workers, victims of a tragic fire in Kuwait, were brought back to their homeland.

The Indian government has successfully repatriated the remains of the victims after a deadly blaze in a residential building that claimed 50 lives.

BBC reported that the catastrophe unfolded in Mangaf city, where a fire ravaged a building predominantly housing Indian workers. Out of the 50 fatalities, 45 were Indian nationals, and three were from the Philippines, with two bodies yet to be identified. Many of the injured also hail from India, underscoring the tragedy's heavy toll on its expatriate community.

Kuwait, where foreign workers constitute two-thirds of its population, has seen its human rights record on migrant workers' living conditions come under fire. Several human rights organizations have vocalized their concern, highlighting the substandard living arrangements often provided to laborers in the essential construction and domestic services sectors.

Identification and Repatriation Efforts

In the aftermath of the disaster, Indian Minister Kirti Vardhan Singh traveled to Kuwait to coordinate the identification process of the deceased. "DNA tests had been carried out to identify the victims," Singh stated, ensuring accuracy in the repatriation process. This meticulous approach was vital due to the extent of the calamity.

The bodies were returned to India aboard a special Indian Air Force flight. The aircraft first touched down in Kerala, proceeding afterward to Delhi. This logistical feat was a response to the families' grief and the nation's collective mourning.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was present at Kochi airport, remarked on the tragedy's profound impact and emphasized the crucial role of migrant workers in the state's economy and society.

Kuwaits Safety Standards in Question

Kuwaiti authorities' initial findings suggest that the fire started due to an electrical short circuit in the security guard’s room. Inflammable materials used for room partitions exacerbated the spread of the fire, turning a potentially small incident into a devastating blaze.

A Kuwaiti citizen and several expatriates have been detained, facing charges related to manslaughter and negligence. Such legal actions reflect the gravity of the oversight and the ensuing demand for accountability.

The incident has spurred a series of inspections and safety evaluations across Kuwait, particularly focusing on accommodations for foreign workers. These sudden governmental moves aim to avert future tragedies and rectify the long-standing issue of inadequate living conditions.

Global Response and Local Mourning

Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan delivered a poignant message about the mishap. He expressed the collective mourning of a community that was tightly knit by its members' aspirations and hard work, often away from their homeland.

In response to the crisis, state and federal governments in India have announced financial compensations for the families of the deceased. Efforts to provide closure and support to the bereaved families underscore the Indian government's commitment to its overseas citizens.

In conclusion, the devastating fire in Kuwait not only highlighted the perils faced by migrant workers but also the responsiveness of governmental bodies in times of crisis. The Indian government's effective repatriation operations, alongside Kuwait's introspective safety reviews, demonstrate a dual approach to a tragedy that extends beyond borders. The memory of the lost lives serves as a somber reminder of the risks faced by migrant workers worldwide and a call to improve their living and working conditions.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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