Kuwait government announces 15,000 dollars compensation to kin of deceased in fire accident

Various compensations have been announced to the kin of the deceased and injured by the Kuwait government, the Indian government, the Kerala government, the company involved, and some private individuals.
A video grab of the fire that broke out at the building at Mangaf, Kuwait
A video grab of the fire that broke out at the building at Mangaf, Kuwait Photo | PTI

KOCHI: The Kuwait government has announced a compensation of $15,000 each (nearly Rs 12 lakh) to the families of the victims of the devastating fire that killed 50 people, including 46 Indians (21 from Kerala), in a building but experts said the families of the deceased are entitled for more.

A video grab of the fire that broke out at the building at Mangaf, Kuwait
Kerala government announced financial support for Kuwait fire accident victims

“Various compensations have been announced for the deceased and injured by the Kuwait government, the Indian government, the Kerala government, the company involved, and some private individuals. In addition to these, the legal heirs of the deceased are entitled to separate legal compensation,” said Musthafa Zafeer O V, founder and managing director of Musthafa & Almana, a UAE-based international law & consultancy firm.

Following the announcement, the families of the deceased will receive a total of Rs 32 lakh, taking into account Rs 8 lakh announced by NBTC Group, whose workers died in the blaze, Rs 5 lakh each announced by the state government and the Lulu group, and Rs 2 lakh by the Union government.

Given the criminal case for manslaughter by negligence, there is a strong possibility of significant compensation for the families of the victims, he said, adding that as per the Kuwait Civil Law legal heirs are entitled to a minimum amount of KBD (Kuwait dinar) 10,000 as legal blood money (Deyyah Sharia).

Thomas Joseph, who was a labour attache at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, said he had visited NBTC Group’s accommodation while he was working in the embassy.

“I have visited the labour camp run by K G Abraham’s company (NBTC), and I can vouch that they are run properly, and better than many of the other camps run by other Indian companies. All accommodation facilities at the labour camp are well arranged and systematic,” he said.

Joseph served 10 years in the GCC region – four-and-a-half years in Qatar, three-and-a-half years in Saudi Arabia and 2 years in Kuwait. “They have a common kitchen, which is separate from their apartment complex. There is a provision in the contract that the workers will be provided free food and accommodation,” said Changanassery-based Joseph, who retired from service in November 2016.

Former diplomat Venu Rajamony, who served as Consul General of India to Dubai in 2007-10 period, said that labour camps in the Gulf countries vary depending on the owners. Normally, there are regular inspections by the local government and they ensure that all precautions are taken.

“I’m sure the local government will conduct an inspection. I have heard KGA group (K G Abraham) facilities are amongst the better ones,”he added.

Speaking to reporters in Kochi on Saturday, NBTC group owner Abraham said that the families of the deceased are entitled to four years’ salary, as per the terms of the insurance.

Musthafa said that the tragic accident raises significant legal questions about the responsibilities of employers, building owners, and housing companies who are primarily responsible for providing accommodation. In GCC and Kuwait, laws are generally employee-friendly with clear regulations regarding employment, benefits, housing, and other aspects. The key question is whether these regulations were properly followed.

Assembly condoles fire tragedy victims

The assembly on Wednesday condoled the death of twenty-four Keralites and others who lost lives in the Kuwait fire tragedy. The assembly observed a minute’s silence as a homage to the victims.

Speaker A N Shamsser read out the condolence message. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it was a most-saddening accident. “A total of 49 persons were killed and 46 of them were Indians, including 24 Malayalis. They became expatriates to realise their dreams. But without realising them, they had to succumb to the disaster. It is saddening."

A video grab of the fire that broke out at the building at Mangaf, Kuwait
Fire tragedy: Centre shoots down Kerala health minister Veena George's plan to visit Kuwait

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan criticised the Union government’s decision denying political clearance to Health Minister Veena George’s travel to Kuwait. He said such situations required the presence of the representatives of the Central and state governments. He offered condolences to the families of the deceased.

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