Mangaf Blaze Tragedy Traced to Electrical Fault

AMIR ALLOCATES FUNDS FOR 49 FIRE VICTIMS; REPATRIATION PLANNED

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  • 45 Indians, 3 Filipinos identified among dead
  • Interior Minister leads inspection campaign
  • PAM tightens oversight of expat housing safety
  • Kuwaiti, expats detained over fire tragedy
  • Kuwait Municipality shuts 568 basements

KUWAIT CITY, June 13: The Public Prosecution has ordered the provisional detention of a citizen and some expatriates on charges of manslaughter and accidental injury as a result of negligence in security and safety measures to prevent fire. This is to complete the investigation procedures regarding the incident of a building fire in Mangaf, which resulted in the death of 49 expatriates and injuries to 49 others.

Teams from the Interior Ministry, Kuwait Municipality, Kuwait Fire Force, Ministry of Electricity and Water and Public Authority for Manpower take part in the inspection campaign.

Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ordered allocating a sum of money for each of the 49 deceased from the blazed Mangaf apartment building, said First Deputy Premier Sheikh Fahad Yousuf Al-Sabah on Thursday. In a press release after an inspection tour of properties violating safety and building codes, Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf, also Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense, underlined that the bodies of the victims will all be transferred back to their homeland onboard Kuwaiti military airplanes. The Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers Undersecretary, Hans Leo Cacdac, has confirmed that three Filipinos are among those dead in the Mangaf fire.

First Deputy Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Yousuf Al-Sabah leads an inspection campaign on illegal properties across Kuwait, accompanied by Minister of Public Works and Minister of Municipality Dr. Nora Al-Mashaan.The campaign covered areas including Al-Mangaf, Al-Mahboula, Khaitan, and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh.

Repatriation
Cacdac has instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Migrant Workers Office in Kuwait to closely work with the Embassy of the Philippines, under the leadership of Ambassador Jose Cabrera, in taking the necessary measures for the repatriation of the remains of the three Filipinos. First Deputy Prime Minister, Interior and Defense Minister Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah announced that 48 of those who perished in the fire have been identified. He said 45 of those who died are Indians and three are Filipinos. He added the authorities are still exerting tremendous efforts to identify the remaining body. In latest developments, the General Fire Force disclosed that the fire that engulfed a building in Mangaf on Wednesday was caused by an electrical short circuit.

According to a press statement, the Accident Investigation Department’s teams concluded their technical inspections, which included analyzing samples of fire debris and conducting interviews with witnesses present during the incident. Their investigation determined that the fire originated in the security guard’s room located on the ground floor of the six-story building. The specialists from the Investigations Department meticulously examined the site to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. Their findings unequivocally pointed to an electrical short circuit as the root cause. This discovery underscores the importance of adhering to electrical safety protocols to prevent such tragic incidents in the future. Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf on Thursday headed an overall inspection campaign on illegal properties in many areas in Kuwait.

Kuwait Municipality shuts 568 basements

The minister, accompanied by Minister of Public Works and Minister of Municipality Dr. Nora Al-Mashaan began their inspection campaign in Al-Mangaf, Al-Mahboula, Khaitan, and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. The Interior Ministry, Kuwait Municipality, Kuwait Fire Force, Ministry of Electricity and Water and Public Authority for Manpower took part in the campaign. Kuwait Municipality declared on Thursday its teams had shut down 568 irregular basements of residential and commercial buildings in the past ten months. The personnel issued 1,639 citations and “blocked” 596 properties. Moreover, up to 189 basements packed with various unlicensed items had been evacuated.

The declaration came against the backdrop of a fiery fire that gutted an apartment building in Al-Mangaf, leaving massive damage and taking 49 lives. In response, the authorities vowed to clamp down on any misuse of properties. Following the recent fire incident in Mangaf, the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) intensified its campaigns in labor accommodations, reports Aljarida daily. According to informed sources in PAM, the National Center for Health and Safety affiliated with PAM will launch extensive campaigns in labor accommodations in all governorates of Kuwait especially those known to house large numbers of workers.

The campaigns are aimed at ensuring the buildings meet the safety and health measures, and to figure out to what extent the contracting companies and employers are committed to the set conditions. This is intended to ensure the protection of the lives and properties of expatriate workers. The sources affirmed that PAM will impose the law strictly, and apply tough penalties on all violating parties. They explained that the penalties include blocking the company’s file and suspending its license.

The law has authorized granting inspectors judicial arrest authority in order to enter labor accommodations and make sure they meet the relevant criteria. The inspecting teams will issue warnings and give a short grace period after which they will come back to check if the violations have been removed. If not, the teams will issue citations and refer them to the relevant authorities for necessary legal action.

The sources said the Planning and Development Department in PAM recently launched a new online service titled “Convenient labor housing” based on its concern about employers’ commitment to providing adequate housing for their workers, especially those registered under government contracts. They highlighted PAM’s regulation that employers are not to collect any money from the laborers for housing, as per the ministerial Decision No. 199/2010. Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Al-Yahya and Minister of Health Dr. Ahmad Al-Awadhi visited Al- Adan Hospital to see the injured people in the tragic fire that broke out at a workers’ building in Al-Mangaf, south of Kuwait City Wednesday.

In a press statement, the Foreign Ministry confirmed the government’s commitment to providing highest healthcare services for the injured people and wished them a speedy recovery. Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Al-Yahya spoke to Ministry of Extoternal Affairs of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Wednesday, and conveyed the government and citizens’ deep condolences over the death of 49 expatriates in a fire that broke out in a residential building in Al-Mangaf, south of Kuwait city.

Al-Yahya expressed sincere sorrow and deep sympathy to the families of the victims, and wished fast recovery of the victims. He emphasized that Kuwait was utilizing all resources to care for the injured and meet their health and medical needs. Interior Undersecretary General Sheikh Salem Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al- Sabah on Wednesday visited Mubarak Hospital to check on the condition of persons injured in the apartment building fire that occurred in Al-Mangaf earlier in the day.

Officials from the Ministry of Health briefed the minister on their condition after they were injured in the flames of the fire that gutted the apartment building and claimed 49 lives. Kuwait awoke early Wednesday with the tragic news about a deadly fire gutting an apartment building in the residential district of Al-Mangaf, located south of the capital, Kuwait City. As the hours passed, the casualty toll kept climbing until late in the day, when the Ministry of Interior declared that the latest update showed that at least 49 people perished in the flames that were fought by firemen who hurried to the scene, where their blazes stained the facade of multi-story building with charcoal soot.

All injured people have been taken to several nearby hospitals, including Adan and Jahra hospitals, for necessary medical treatment, Major General Eid Al-Owaihan, the chief of the ministry’s Criminal Division, said in a statement to Kuwait TV. He confirmed that rescuers and medical emergency teams had scrambled to the scene to aid the victims. Among the officials who had hurried to the scene was Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Fahad Yousuf Al-Sabah who warned that any building violation would be addressed without prior warning as of Thursday. “As of tomorrow (Thursday), the Municipality and its teams will respond to all violations at all apartment buildings without prior warning,” the minister told reporters while inspecting the fire site.

The owner of the blaze building will be kept in custody until investigations into the causes of the fire are over, the minister said. Minister of Health Dr. Ahmad Al- Awadhi said hospitals received 56 people affected by the fire. He said the cases were distributed to hospitals of Adan, Mubarak Al- Kabeer, Farwaniya, Jaber Al-Ahmad and Jahra. Later in the day, Kuwait’s Public Prosecutor declared starting an investigation into circumstance of the fire that tore through the building housing foreign workers.

By Jaber Al-Hamoud
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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