Kerala Health Minister Claims Centre Denied Permission To Visit Kuwait For Relief Operations

The Kerala government had decided to send George to Kuwait to help with the coordination of relief efforts.

Kuwait Fire
A total of 49 people lost their lives in a major fire that broke out at a building in Kuwait's Mangaf area on Wednesday Photo: PTI

Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Thursday claimed that she was denied permission by the Union Government travel to Kuwait for the purpose of coordinating relief efforts for Keralites affected by the fire tragedy.

"What we just sought from the central government was the permission to travel to Kuwait to stand with our people affected by the tragedy and coordinate activities there. That permission is denied," George told reporters.

She said that it is "unfortunate" that she did not get the permission, adding that "the purpose of my visit (to Kuwait) was that I wanted to be with the injured and bring their needs to the attention of the Central government."

She also noted that the Embassy had not given an exact number of how many persons were severely injured. "The data that we have collected from there is that a total of 7 people have been admitted to the hospital and 4 of them are from Kerala, but this is not officially declared," George said.

The Kerala government had decided to send George to Kuwait to help with the coordination of relief efforts, including those injured and the repatriation of the deceased.

Reportedly, she also waited at the airport for hours, in hopes of getting the approval from the External Affairs Ministry.

The tragic fire accident in Kuwait's Mangaf claimed the lives of 49 persons, of whom 45 were Indians. The mortal remains of the Indian nationals was being brought back by a special Indian Air Force aircraft on Friday.

The mortal remains are being brought by the IAF and Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh.

Of the 45 Indian victims, 24 were Keralites. George had said that only 15 of these deceased were able to be indentified.

The indentified victims are -- Deni Raphael (Ernakulam), Shameer (Kollam), Akash (Pathanamthitta), Muraleedharan Nair (Pathanamthitta), Saju Varghese (Pathanamthitta), Stephen Abraham (Kottayam), Lukose (Velichikkal), Sajan George (Kollam), Kelu Ponmuleri (Kasargod), Renjith (Kasargod), Thomas Ummachan (Pathanamthitta), Viswas Krishna (Kannur), Noohu (Malappuram), Bahuleyan (Mallapuram) and Sreehari Prasad (Kottayam).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed grief over the unfortunate incident and directed authorities to provide all possible assistance to the people affected. He had directed the MoS MEA to immediately leave for Kuwait for the purpose of overseeing the relief operations and aid to the injured persons.

Modi had also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased.

Notably, many of the victims of the fire worked for NBTC, one of the largest construction firms in the country. As per reports, the building - Al Mangaf - was also owned by NBTC.

(With inputs from agencies)