Sudan Factory Fire: ‘6 Indian Workers Killed, 33 Safe,’ Says MEA
Firefighters try to put out a fire at the ceramic factory in Khartoum, Sudan.
Firefighters try to put out a fire at the ceramic factory in Khartoum, Sudan.(Photo: AP)

Sudan Factory Fire: ‘6 Indian Workers Killed, 33 Safe,’ Says MEA

Six Indians were killed in Tuesday's LPG tanker blast in a ceramic factory in Sudan while eight are undergoing treatment in hospitals and 11 are either unidentified or missing, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday, 6 December.

MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said a total of 58 Indians were working in the factory at the time of the blast and 33 were safe.

Earlier on Thursday, officials had said most of the Indians hospitalised or reported missing belonged to Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and authorities are trying to ascertain the identifies of the victims.

On Wednesday, the Indian Embassy in Sudan, citing reports, suggested that 18 Indians were among the 23 people killed in the blast.

“Six have been identified and Embassy is contacting families in India to send back their mortal remains,” the Indian mission tweeted. It said efforts are on to identify other victims.

“The bodies have burnt beyond recognition. We are trying to establish their identity,” an Indian official told PTI over phone from Khartoum.

The official said one more person died on Thursday and identified the victim as Niraj Kumar Singh from Bihar. More than 130 people were injured in the blast.

Out of those reported missing Ramakrishanan, Raja Sekhar and Venkatachalem are from Tamil Nadu, Ram Kumar, Amit Tiwari and Nitish Mishra are from Bihar, Jishan Khan, Mohit Kumar, Hari Nath and Pradeep Verama are from Uttar Pradesh, and Pawan and Pradeep from Haryana.

Intezar Khan from Delhi, Bahadurbhai Somabhai Pagi from Gujarat and Rajasthan's Jaideep were also reported missing.

“Some of the missing may be in the list of dead which we are still to receive as identification is not possible because of the bodies being burnt,” the official said.

He said that after the identification of the bodies they would be send home for last rites.

Expressing grief at the incident, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said 60 Indians were employed in the factory and 53 of them were understood to be present at the factory and residential area at the time of the accident.

He said the Indian Embassy in Khartoum is in constant touch with the factory management and the embassy staff has been stationed at the site as well. “We are working with the Sudanese authorities to facilitate the identification of the deceased at the earliest,” he said.

A total of 33 Indians who survived have been accommodated at the Saloomi Ceramics Factory residence.

According to a statement issued by the Sudanese government, the blast in a gas tanker triggered the fire. “Preliminary observations indicate a lack of necessary safety measures and equipment at the factory, in addition to random storage of flammable materials,” it said.

An investigation has been launched, it added.

Sudanese President Issues Statement

Meanwhile, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, now on a visit to the US, expressed his condolences for the victims and said that preliminary reports indicate the absence of necessary safety tools.

“The random storage of flammable materials contributed to the continuation and expansion of the fire and the destruction of the factory completely,” he said in a statement from Washington.

“The Council of Ministers will form a committee of inquiry to determine the responsibilities and avoid the recurrence of such unfortunate incidents in the future,” he was quoted as saying by Sudan Tribune portal.

PM Modi Condoles Deaths

PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 4 December, condoled the deaths and said the Indian Embassy is providing all possible assistance to those affected.

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Palaniswami Requests PM’s Personal Intervention

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct officials concerned to update on their status, PTI reported.

“It is also learnt that among the Indian nationals, three of them hailing from Tamil Nadu are missing and another three have been admitted in the local hospital,” the Chief Minister said in a letter to Modi, according to PTI.

The India Embassy in Khartoum may be directed to update details of the affected persons immediately, “so that the distressed families back home, get clear cut information of the condition of their near and dear ones,” he said.

Palaniswami requested Modi's personal intervention in the matter and urged best medical care for the injured.

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‘24-Hr Emergency Helpline Set Up by Indian Embassy’: Jaishankar

Meanwhile, responding to the incident, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar set up an emergency helpline for those in need.

An AFP report quoted the Sudanese government saying that 23 people were killed and more than 130 injured in the incident, which, according to preliminary reports, indicate that necessary safety equipment was missing at the site.

“There were also inflammable materials improperly stored, which led to the spread of the fire,” the government said, adding that an investigation has been launched.

(With inputs from PTI)

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