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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

DMW confirms 3 OFWs killed in Kuwait fire

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The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) confirms the deaths of three overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in a fire at their building early Wednesday.

Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac said the three, who died from smoke inhalation, were part of a group of 11 OFWs, all working for the same Kuwaiti construction company housed in the building that caught fire.

Two other OFWs remain in the hospital and are in critical condition, while the remaining six are all safe and unharmed.

Cacdac instructed the Migrant Workers Office in Kuwait (MWO-Kuwait) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Welfare Office to coordinate their efforts with the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait (PE-Kuwait) under Ambassador Jose Cabrera for the repatriation of the three workers’ remains.

Cacdac said he and OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio are personally reaching out to all 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. We will provide all the necessary assistance and support to the OFWs and their families in this difficult time as directed by the President,” said Cacdac.

Kuwait authorities reported that the fire started at about 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 June 2024 (9:30 a.m. in Manila) in the six-storey building that served as a housing and dormitory facility for nearly 200 foreign workers.

Flames engulfed the lower floors as black smoke poured out of the upper-storey windows, unverified images posted on social media showed.

The Kuwait interior ministry revised the death toll up 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 labourers.

Oil-rich Kuwait has large numbers of foreign workers, many of them from South and Southeast Asia, and mostly working in construction or service industries.

A source in the fire department said the victims suffocated from rising smoke after the fire started at the building’s base.

A foreign ministry statement said the fire claimed “the lives of 49 people residing in the State of Kuwait”, amending an earlier statement that said they were all Indian citizens.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had previously called the disaster “saddening” in a post on social media platform X.

“My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones,” wrote Modi, as the Indian embassy in Kuwait set up an emergency helpline for updates. With AFP

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