Around 40 Indians died and more than 50 were injured after a fire broke out in a building housing workers in Mangaf city of southern Kuwait on Wednesday, according to India’s external affairs ministry.

Among those who died, 24 workers were from Kerala, reported The Indian Express citing official communication from the chief minister’s office.

The fire started in a kitchen of the six-storey building where nearly 160 workers employed in the same company were living. A total of 49 workers were killed, reported Kuwait Times.

After the blaze, Adarsh Swaika, the Indian ambassador in Kuwait, visited the site and also the hospitals where the injured were being treated, said the ministry.

“The embassy continues to coordinate with local authorities to assist Indian nationals who have been injured in this unfortunate incident and extend all possible support,” the ministry stated.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a review meeting regarding the incident and announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of those who died.

The prime minister’s office stated that Modi “expressed his deep sorrow at the unfortunate incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased and wished speedy recovery of those injured”.

The Kerala government has also announced it will provide Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the Keralites who died and Rs 1 lakh each to the injured persons.

Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry Kirti Vardhan Singh is expected to reach Kuwait on Thursday to oversee the early repatriation of the bodies of Indians as well as for medical assistance to those injured.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George and senior IAS officer Jeevan Babu, the state director of the National Health Mission, are also travelling to Kuwait to facilitate relief efforts and the procedure to bring back the bodies.

The Indian embassy in Kuwait released an emergency helpline number (+965-65505246) that can be reached by phone and messaging platform WhatsApp.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that he had spoken with his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Al-Yahya and was assured that the incident would be fully investigated.

An investigation into the accident has begun, according to the Kuwait Times. So far, there has been no official confirmation about the cause of the fire.

However, the head of investigations at the Kuwait Fire Department, Colonel Sayed Al-Mousawi, said that an inflammable material was used as partitions between the rooms and also apartments.

He said this caused a cloud of smoke, which led to several workers suffocating while trying to escape.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousef Al-Sabah, the deputy prime minister of Kuwait, minister of defence and minister of interior, has ordered the arrest of the building’s landlord and guard.

He also told reporters that the Public Authority of Manpower will start studying the problem of overcrowding in buildings where foreign workers are living.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi also expressed his condolences.

“The condition of our workers in the Middle East is a serious matter of concern,” the Congress leader said in a social media post on Wednesday. “The Government of India, working alongside its counterparts, must prioritise the safety of our citizens and ensure dignified living standards.”