3 OFWs among 50 killed in Kuwait fire

Mayen Jaymalin - Agence France-Presse
3 OFWs among 50 killed in Kuwait fire
A member of the Kuwaiti security forces stands outside a building, which was engulfed by a fire in Kuwait City on Wednesday. At least 50 foreign workers were killed and dozens were injured.

MANILA, Philippines — Three overseas Filipino workers have died in a fire that gutted a housing building for foreign workers in Kuwait, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) confirmed yesterday.

OWWA chief Arnell Ignacio identified the Filipino fatalities as Jesus Lopez, Edwin Petilla and Jeffrey Catubay.

Meanwhile, Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Cacdac said the three OFWs worked in a construction company and died from smoke inhalation.

Cacdac also reported that two other OFWs remain in hospital and are in critical condition, while the remaining six are all safe and unharmed.

He directed the Migrant Workers Office in Kuwait and the OWWA Welfare Office to coordinate with the Philippine embassy in Kuwait for the repatriation of the three workers’ remains.

Cacdac has personally reached out to the families and relatives of the 11 OFWs.

“We are in touch with the families of all the affected OFWs, including the families of those two in critical condition and the families of the three fatalities. Six of them are now safe and provided with their immediate needs,” Cacdac said.

“We will provide all the necessary assistance and support to the OFWs and their families in this difficult time as directed by the President,” he added.

The Philippine embassy in Kuwait extended yesterday its condolences to the State of Kuwait.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this devastating incident. We convey our sincere wishes for the speedy recovery of those injured,” the embassy said in a statement.

“We commend the swift response and efforts of the Kuwaiti authorities, firefighters, and medical teams in responding to the fire incident and providing assistance to the affected individuals,” the embassy said.

“We pray for the safety, strength, and resilience of those at the forefront in rescuing and saving lives.”

Death toll

Based on the initial report, the fire broke out at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday in Mangaf, a coastal city south of Kuwait.

Kuwait’s Interior Ministry reported at least 50 people were killed, with dozens of others injured in the fire.

The interior ministry revised the death toll to 49, from 35 issued earlier, after forensic teams scoured the charred building.

The official Kuwait News Agency quoted Health Minister Ahmed al-Awadhi as saying hospitals had received 56 people injured in the fire in the Mangaf area, which is heavily populated with migrant laborers.

The building, whose exterior was blackened with soot, housed 196 workers, according to information given to the interior minister by their employer.

A source in the fire department said the victims suffocated from rising smoke after the fire started at the kitchen in the building’s base. Flames engulfed the lower floors as black smoke poured out of the upper-story windows, unverified images posted on social media showed.

Interior Minister Sheikh Fahd Al-Yousef said the building’s owner had been detained for potential negligence, adding any property violating safety regulations would be closed immediately.

“We will work to address the issue of labor overcrowding and neglect,” he said. “We will detain the owner of the property where the fire broke out until legal procedures are completed.” – Pia Lee-Brago

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