At least 17 people were killed and several injured after a fire at a hotel in Delhi’s congested Karol Bagh area early this morning.
A woman and a child, among those dead, were killed when they tried jumping from a window, reports said. More than two dozen fire engines were sent to the spot after the fire broke out on the top two floors of Hotel Arpit Palace around 4 am. Most of the 150 people in the 65-room hotel were sleeping at the time, the staff said. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Video recorded on cellphones by eye-witnesses showed huge flames crowning the terrace of the white six-storey building. A person is seen dangling from the terrace and then jumping off.
The fire was brought under control around 7 am. Thirty-five people were rescued and those injured were taken to nearby hospitals. Most of the deaths took place due to suffocation, the police said. Several people in the hotel were from Myanmar. At least 35 rooms were booked by a family who were in the city for a function, news agency IANS reported.
“The hotel had clearance only for four floors. They had made a kitchen and terrace on top of it. This is a major case of carelessness. Investigation is on. Strict action will be taken against the guilty,” Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, who visited the site, said.
A magisterial inquiry has been ordered, he added. Karol Bagh, in central Delhi, is popular with budget tourists and lined with hotels and markets.
Authorities in Delhi have frequently launched raids to enforce building codes, fire safety measures and evacuation procedures but these steps have failed to check rampant violations by builders in a rapidly expanding capital city of more than 18 million people. Last week, a fire broke out in a hospital in neighbouring Noida, forcing emergency evacuation of patients. Nobody was hurt.