At least 49 dead in fire at building housing workers in Kuwait

Fire erupts in building in southern Mangaf district, an area heavily populated with foreign workers in Kuwait.

Aftermath of a deadly fire in a building, in Mangaf
A police officer is seen in front of the building that caught fire in Mangaf, southern Kuwait [Reuters]

At least 49 people have been killed after a fire broke out in a building that housed workers in Kuwait, according to authorities.

The blaze early on Wednesday morning in the southern Mangaf district also injured dozens of people, the Health Ministry said. The area is heavily populated with foreign labourers, but there was no immediate information on the nationality of the casualties.

Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad al-Yousuf al-Sabah ordered the arrest of the building’s owner during a visit to the site.

“Unfortunately, the greed of real estate owners is what leads to these matters,” said Sheikh Fahad, who also runs the interior and defence ministries.

Aftermath of a deadly fire in a building in Mangaf
Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Fahad al-Yousuf al-Sabah speaks with police officers at the site [Reuters]

Authorities said the fire had been brought under control and were investigating what caused it.

Later on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry revised the death toll up to 49, from 41 issued earlier, after forensic teams scoured the charred building.

“The building in which the fire occurred was used to house workers, and there was a large number of workers there. Dozens were rescued, but unfortunately there were many deaths as a result of inhaling smoke from the fire,” a senior police commander told state TV.

“We always alert and warn against” cramming too many workers into housing accommodation, he said, without providing details on the workers’ type of employment or place of origin.

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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies