At least 40 Indians die in a fire at a building housing foreign workers in Kuwait

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A fire swept through a building that housed foreign workers in Kuwait early Wednesday, killing at least 40 Indian nationals and injuring more than 50, India's external affairs ministry said. Local officials said the blaze appeared to be linked to code violations.

Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah confirmed the toll and ordered the arrest of the building’s owner during a visit to the site, local media reported.

“We will address the issue of labor overcrowding,” he said. "I’m now going to see what violations were committed here and I will deal with the owner of the property.”

Col. Sayed Hassan al-Mousawi, head of the firefighters' Accident Investigation Department, said there were dozens of casualties and that the final death toll may be higher.

India’s external affairs ministry said late Wednesday in a statement that “around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured."

The injured are being treated in five government hospitals in Kuwait and receiving “proper medical care and attention,” the statement added. It said that India’s junior External Affairs Minister Kirti Vardhan Singh will be traveling to Kuwait to work toward early repatriation of mortal remains and provide medical assistance to those injured.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the victims and said the Indian Embassy is “closely monitoring the situation and working with the authorities there to assist the affected.”

“The fire mishap in Kuwait City is saddening. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest,” Modi wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Kuwait, like other Persian Gulf countries, has a large community of migrant workers who far outnumber the local population. The nation of some 4.2 million people is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of New Jersey but has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.

A fire at an oil refinery in 2022 killed four people.

The Associated Press