24 from Kerala killed in Kuwait fire, state govt announces Rs 5 lakh compensation

A delegation led by Kerala Health Minister Veena George will travel to Kuwait for repatriation of the bodies and to provide assistance.
Police at the site of the fire accident
Police at the site of the fire accidentKuwait News Agency
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At least 24 people from Kerala have died in the building that caught fire in Kuwait’s Mangaf city on Wednesday, June 12. The building housed around 195 workers, mostly from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Seven people are reported to be in a critical condition and it is feared that the death toll would go up. The Kerala government has offered a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased and a delegation led by Health Minister Veena George will travel to Kuwait for repatriation of the bodies and to provide assistance. The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday, June 13.

“The death toll will be confirmed after all identification has been completed. There are still a few bodies that have not been identified for which DNA tests will be conducted,” said Ajith, a senior official from Non-Resident Keralites Association (NoRKA-Roots). Norka, which is managed by the Kerala government, looks after the affairs of non-resident Keralites and has help desks in various countries. The association has set up 24-hour toll-free numbers 1800 425 3939 (from India) and +918802012345 (from abroad, missed call service) for assistance.

The building that caught fire belongs to NBTC group, owned by Kerala businessman KG Abraham. The fire broke out around 4.30 am on Wednesday. IANS reported that around 18 people escaped unhurt as they had left the building around 4 am to start their morning duty.

Apart from the Rs 5 lakh compensation announced by the Kerala government, businessmen MA Yusuf Ali and Ravi Pillai have also announced aid to the families. While Yusuf Ali will give Rs 5 lakh each, Ravi Pillai has announced Rs 2 lakh aid to each family. The amount will be directed through the Norka Department.

Speaking to the media, one of the victim’s father, George Pothen from Pathanamthitta, said that his son had gone to Kuwait just last month to take up a teaching job at an engineering college. “He got his salary on the 5th of this month and transferred it to us the same day. We spoke to him on Tuesday night also,” he added.

A sister of one of the deceased said, “When the news of the fire came on TV, I knew it was the same company where my brother worked. We tried to believe that my brother would be safe, but it was not to be. We got the news that he passed away when his name was flashed on the TV channels. We are yet to tell the news to our aged mother.”

(With inputs from IANS)

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