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KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister and Defense and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah and Minister of State for Municipality Affairs Noura Al-Mashaan inspect building violations. - Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat and KUNA
KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister and Defense and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah and Minister of State for Municipality Affairs Noura Al-Mashaan inspect building violations. - Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat and KUNA

Amir orders cash payments for families of Mangaf fire victims

46 Indians, 3 Filipinos among 50 dead • Three detained over deadly blaze

Fire caused by short circuit • Landlords warned to remove discarded items

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ordered cash handouts for the families of the victims of a Mangaf building fire that killed 50 foreign workers and plunged relatives and friends into mourning. Forty-six of those who died in the fire were identified as Indian nationals. Three other deceased are Filipinos and the identity of one of the victims has not been established. “One of the injured died” overnight, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya told reporters, after 49 people were declared dead on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah said the bodies of the victims will be transferred back to their homelands onboard Kuwaiti military airplanes. The prosecution on Thursday ordered the detention of a Kuwaiti citizen and two expats after interrogating them on manslaughter and wrongful injury charges, the prosecution said in an official statement. Prosecution officials late Wednesday visited the injured people at various hospitals, the statement said.

The fire began at 4:00 am resulting in huge clouds of black smoke that suffocated most of the victims. The investigation team of the fire department announced on Thursday that the fire was caused by an electric short circuit in the room of the building guard and spread to other places. The guard’s room is located on the ground floor. According to security sources, there were 179 workers inside the building when the fire broke out, while 17 were outside. Of the 196 residents, 175 are Indians, 11 Filipinos and the rest from Thailand, Pakistan and Egypt.

Indian Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Kirti Vardhan Singh arrived in Kuwait on Thursday and met the ministers of interior and foreign affairs. Singh also visited Mubarak Al-Kabeer and Jaber Hospitals and met 13 injured Indians receiving treatment there, according to a statement by the Indian Embassy in Kuwait. He assured them of the government of India’s assistance. “Some of the bodies have been charred beyond recognition, so DNA tests (are) underway to identify the victims,” he told Indian media.

Sheikh Fahad said the Indian minister is due to repatriate the remains of Indian victims aboard his

plane, adding that if it is not enough, HH the Amir instructed him to repatriate the rest aboard Kuwaiti military planes. On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised help for those affected by the “gruesome fire tragedy”, announcing 200,000-rupee ($2,400) payments to next of kin.

In Manila, the Department of Migrant Workers said three Filipinos had died from smoke inhalation, with two more in critical condition while six escaped unharmed. “We are in touch with the families of all the affected (migrants), including the families of those two in critical condition and the families of the three fatalities,” Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo J Cacdac said in a statement.

Earlier, Sheikh Fahad and Minister of State for Municipality Affairs Dr Noura Al-Mashaan led inspection teams from various government departments to inspect buildings in several areas to ascertain they comply with safety rules. The minister said that the teams removed several violations and cut power supply to at least one building where the basement was rented to a carpenter in total violation of the law.

Sheikh Fahad said the ministry will establish a hotline for people to report any violations in buildings to authorities, which will allow them to take immediate action. He added that inspections will continue to make sure that all violations are removed and safety rules are applied to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again.

Mashaan warned landlords of buildings to remove used and discarded items from their premises immediately. The law will be directly applied upon the violators, the minister warned. Discarded items must be removed instantly, she stressed, disclosing that power supply had already been cut off from buildings where such dumping was discovered. The ministry of social affairs meanwhile allowed charity societies to collect donations for the victims of the fire.

Kuwait Municipality announced on Thursday its teams had shut down 568 irregular basements of residential and commercial buildings in the past 10 months. Its personnel issued 1,639 citations and “blocked” 596 properties. Moreover, up to 189 basements packed with various unlicensed items had been emptied.

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