Kuwaiti authorities on Thursday arrested three persons on charges of manslaughter and causing injuries due to negligence after a fire that killed 50 workers, 45 of whom were Indians, reported AFP.

Of the three persons who have been arrested, one is Kuwaiti and two are foreigners.

The fire started on the ground floor of a six-storey building in Mangaf city of southern Kuwait on Wednesday. The building was housing nearly 200 workers employed with the same company. A total of 176 of the workers were Indians and 33 of them are currently admitted in various hospitals.

The bodies of the 45 Indians killed in the blaze arrived in Kochi on Friday morning on a special Indian Air Force aircraft. The aircraft will now leave for Delhi and is expected to reach the national capital by 4 pm.

Twenty-three of the Indian workers who died in the blaze were from Kerala, seven were from Tamil Nadu, three each from Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, two from Odisha, and one each from Bihar, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Haryana.

After the aircraft landed, Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry Kirti Vardhan Singh told ANI that the Kuwaiti authorities had assured New Delhi that all the paperwork regarding the insurance that is to be paid to the families would be done as immediately as possible.

Singh arrived in 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, were also scheduled to travel to Kuwait to facilitate relief efforts and the procedure to bring back the bodies.

However, they were denied political clearance by the Centre, reported Onmanorama.

“The decision to deny political clearance is such a wrong approach from the Centre,” George said at the Cochin International Airport. “In the face of tragedy and sorrow, such an attitude toward Kerala is very, very disappointing.”

Cause of blaze

An investigation began on Thursday to ascertain the cause of the fire. Citing a press statement, the Arab Times reported that the Accident Investigation Department had concluded the fire started in the security guard’s room on the ground floor.

A short circuit was the cause of the blaze, according to the team.

On Wednesday, 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, had told reporters that the Public Authority of Manpower will start studying the problem of overcrowding in buildings where foreign workers are living.

The Amir of Kuwait, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, has ordered compensation to the families of the workers who died in the blaze, reported Kuwait Times.