Kuwait fire tragedy: Death toll of Keralites rises to 26, seven seriously injured

The state government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs five lakh to the families of those killed and Rs one lakh for the relatives of the injured.
A picture shows a building that was engulfed by fire in Kuwait City on June 12, 2024.
A picture shows a building that was engulfed by fire in Kuwait City on June 12, 2024.Photo | AFP

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The number of people from Kerala who died in the Kuwait fire tragedy has risen to 26, while seven seriously injured persons are being treated in various hospitals in the Gulf country, according to a senior official of NORKA Roots on Thursday.

The fire that ripped through the six-storied apartment on Wednesday morning has so far claimed the lives of 49 labourers and there is an apprehension that the death toll could rise further.

Of the 24 Keralites who have died, 15 have so far been identified.

The deceased were Deni Raphael of Ernakulam, Shameer of Vayyankara in Kollam, Akash of Pandalam in Pathanamthitta, Muraleedharan Nair of Vazhamuttom in Pathanamthitta, Saju Varghese of Konni in Pathanamthitta, Stephen Abraham of Pampady in Kottayam, Lukose of Velichikkal, Sajan George of Punalur in Kollam, Kelu Ponmuleri of Thrikkaripur in Kasaragod, Renjith ofCherkala in Kasaragod, Thomas Ummachan of Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta, Viswas Krishna of Dharmadom in Kannur, Noohu of Koottayi in Malappuram, Bahuleyan of Pulamanthol in Malappuram and Sreehari Prasad of Changanassery in Kottayam.

A picture shows a building that was engulfed by fire in Kuwait City on June 12, 2024.
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Two more individuals from Kollam have been identified among the 40 Indian nationals who tragically lost their lives in a fire that engulfed a six-story building in Kuwait on Wednesday. The deceased are Lukos, also known as Sabu, from Adichanalloor village, and Sajan George, 29, from Karvalloor village.

The families were informed of the tragedy on Wednesday evening.

Sajan’s friends, who also reside in Kuwait, conveyed the heartbreaking news to his relatives. The family is currently coordinating with the authorities of NORKA (Non-Resident Keralites Affairs) and the Kuwait Embassy to expedite the repatriation of his body.

“Around Wednesday evening, one of Sajan's friends called and told us that his name was on the list of the deceased Indians. Later, some other friends also shared the sad news with us. We are now in touch with officials from Norway and the Kuwait Embassy, hoping to bring his body home soon. The NORKA officials have assured us that the body will be repatriated within a day or two,” said Mathesh Vazhvila, a family friend.

Sajan was the son of George Pothen and Valsamma. He had moved to Kuwait just 17 days prior, starting work as a trainee mechanical engineer. Sajan, an M-Tech graduate from Bishop Jerome College in Kollam, Sajan had previously worked as an assistant professor at Adoor Mount Engineering College for five years and briefly served as a postmaster.

Meanwhile, Lukos had been working in Kuwait for the past 18 years. His family learned of his death when his friends in Kuwait reached out on Wednesday evening.

“We initially heard that Lukos was injured, but by Wednesday evening, we were informed of his death. His friend in Kuwait tried to contact him earlier in the day but later confirmed the tragic news. Now, we are making arrangements to bring his body home,” said Aleyamma Johnson, a ward member of Adichanalloor panchayat and a family friend.

Lukos leaves behind his wife Shiny, his elder daughter Lydia, who recently completed her class 12, and his younger daughter Louise.

The body of Shameer, from Sooranad, was identified on Wednesday itself. Hailing from Sooranad North, Shameer had been working in Kuwait for seven years

Meanwhile, Ajith Kolasseri, who is holding additional charge of the NORKA Chief Executive Officer, said, according to the information provided by its help desk in Kuwait unofficially, the number of casualties among Keralites is rising.

It was 12 in the morning, later updated to 19, and now it stands at 26.

Earlier, the state government had said that, as per the information received by it, 19 people from Kerala died in the incident.

Seven seriously injured Keralites are being treated in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of various hospitals in Kuwait, he told reporters.

Many injured people have been discharged from hospitals, he said.

The official said the names and details of the victims could be provided only after confirmation from the External Affairs Ministry.

A picture shows a building that was engulfed by fire in Kuwait City on June 12, 2024.
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The NORKA help desk is coordinating with the Indian Embassy and the mortuary departments in the hospitals in Kuwait to expedite the paperwork for bringing the bodies of the victims back home.

The state cabinet, meanwhile, has decided to send Health Minister Veena George to Kuwait to coordinate the activities to repatriate the bodies and facilitate the treatment of the injured. The Health Minister will be accompanied by National Health Mission State Mission Director Jeevan Babu.

The state government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs five lakh to the families of those killed and Rs one lakh for the relatives of the injured.

Meanwhile, leading businessmen from Kerala, Yusuf Ali and Ravi Pillai, have conveyed to the Chief Minister that they will provide financial assistance to the victims' families.

Yusuf Ali has offered to provide Rs five lakh each to the families of the deceased, while Ravi Pillai has announced Rs two lakh each for the kins of the deceased.

The help desk of the NORKA (Non-resident Keralite's Affairs) and the expat outfits have been providing all possible support to those affected by the tragedy.

The NORKA help desk and global contact centre have been liaising with various stakeholders to extend their support for the victims of the tragedy.

A picture shows a building that was engulfed by fire in Kuwait City on June 12, 2024.
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