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Who is KG Abraham, the Keralite millionaire and MD of the firm that owned the building in Kuwait where fire killed 45 Indians

The majority of the victims in the fire in the building in Kuwait were employees of Naser Mohamed Al-Baddah & Partner Trading and Contracting Company (NBTC), and the firm owned the building

The Goat Life or Aadujeevitham starring Prithviraj is a 2023 film that chronicles the hardships faced by a Malayali migrant worker in Saudi Arabia. Multimillionaire KG Abraham from Kerala co-produced the film, which grossed Rs 150 crore. Ironically, he is also the managing director of the company that owned the Kuwaiti building which caught fire on 12th June and killed 45 Indian labourers.

A large fire engulfed a six-story building in the southern Kuwaiti city of Mangaf where 196 migrant workers were staying and claimed the lives of 49 people, 45 of them were Indian including 24 Keralites and 50 others were injured. Forensic tests were required to identify some of the victims since they were charred extensively.

Kattunilath Geevarghese Abraham or KG Abraham is the managing director of Naser Mohamed Al-Baddah & Partner Trading and Contracting Company (NBTC). It was founded in 1977 and currently operates in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It offers services in the hotel, retail, logistics and engineering & construction sectors. He also heads the KG Group, which co-produced the film, Aadujeevitham.

The building is owned by NBTC, and it is used for accommodating workers working on construction projects undertaken by the company in Kuwait. The majority of the victims in the fire were employees of the firm.

The businessman, whose fortunes increased after making investments in post-war Kuwait, is worth Rs 4,000 crore. He also controls the Highway Centre retail network in the Middle East. Furthermore, he owns the Crowne Plaza, a five-star establishment in Kochi.

KG Abraham landed in Kuwait in 1976 from Niranam of Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala. He was the third child in a farmer’s family. The 22-year-old was aware of the potential in the Middle East and was driven to pursue it. He completed a diploma in civil engineering. His first job paid 60 dinars and he served in a construction company called Badha and Musairi. After just seven years, he joined NBTC as a partner with an initial capital of 4,000 dinars and began working in Kuwait on small civil building projects.

One significant turning point in his life was the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. He was on a family vacation when the war broke out. He returned to Kuwait in May 1991, one month after the conflict ended and made investments in the nation’s post-war renaissance. His construction business was later diversified into the oil and gas industry. He then added more staff and the business which had 90 people at first, and grew to employ 15,000 individuals. The 69-year-old owns stock in the Crowne Plaza, a five-star facility in Kochi and is a partner in KGA Elite Continental Hotel in Thiruvalla.

He had an argument in 2007 with TU Kuruvila, the minister of public works, after the latter allegedly attempted to sell him fifty acres of wasteland. After feeling duped, he declined to participate in the deal even though he had already given Rs 7 crore. He contacted the government after the minister declined to return the funds which led to his resignation.

He also expressed dissatisfaction with the Left Democratic Front government led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), claiming that the money raised from foreigners for flood relief in 2018 was not being utilized by the people. He reportedly provided enormous support to the people of the state and assisted those in need during the Kerala floods of 2018 and 2019. He also took issue with the government’s announcement in 2023 that it would start taxing abandoned homes and pledged to cut off his financial support for politicians.

NBTC group’s response

“We are in touch with the families of those who lost their lives and those who are injured. We will keep you all updated on a regular basis with true and factual information about the incident. Our team is relentlessly working on all the arrangements needed thereof and assures everyone that we will not spare anything for whatever is needed on our behalf,” stated the NBTC group’s press release.

It further assured that NBTC would offer the “fullest assistance to the families of those who unfortunately lost their lives and to the families of those who are injured. We assure the families of those who are injured that almost all are reported to be stable by hospital authorities.” It added, “We will pay to the family of every employee who passed away Rs 8 lakh. Besides, we will pay out the insurance when the claims are received. We will always be with the families and will offer employment to members of the family and other help.”

What Happened in Kuwait

An official notification issued by the Kuwaiti Fire Force after an assessment of the incident site revealed that an electrical circuit fault was the cause of the fatal fire. Many people died as a consequence of smoke inhalation in the fire which started on the morning of 12th June and was first reported to the police at 4:30 am. According to accounts, the fire started in a kitchen. Authorities confirmed the identities of 45 Indian and three Filipino victims of the fire, which engulfed the Al-Mangaf building in the Al-Ahmadi governorate.

The authorities have arrested three people including the owner of the building, in connection with the instance. Kuwait Public Prosecution said that one Kuwaiti citizen and two foreigners are in judicial custody. Apart from the building owner, the security guard and an officer of the company that employed the workers were also taken into custody. The accident was caused by their failure to meet safety regulations. The prosecution is conducting further investigation.

An Indian Air Force specialist aircraft carrying the remains of Indian citizens killed in the incident touched down at Cochin International Airport. The remains were flown with Union Minister of State VK Singh, who left right away for Kuwait on 13th June. The massive fire that broke out in a labour accommodation claimed the lives of at least 45 Indians, including 23 from Kerala, seven from Tamil Nadu, three from Andhra Pradesh, and one each from Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab, and West Bengal. The deceased were subjected to DNA testing by Kuwaiti authorities prior to their bodies being transferred to Indian authorities for repatriation.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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