Fire in Delhi hotel kills 17, raises questions of safety

Minnie Murray
February 12, 2019

The fire, which killed at least 17 people, initially broke out in the second floor of the building, a North Delhi Municipal Corporation official said.

The dead included a woman and a child who had tried to escape by jumping from a fifth-floor window of the 65-room hotel in the shopping district of Karol Bagh, some of which had been booked by a wedding party. "Three people are injured", GC Misra, the director of Delhi Fire Services, told AFP.

The fire broke out at the Hotel Arpit Palace in a congested part of central Delhi, with images showing it engulfing the entire top floor.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a short circuit but the evacuation was hampered by narrow corridors, panelled in wood.

"The fire has been doused", Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary said earlier "The bodies are being taken out now".

Officials said the fire started at around 4.30am local time (11.30pm Monday GMT). Balan Mani, Delhi Hotel Association Vice President said, "It was due to fire in ducting because of which it had spread to the hotel rooms".

Their medical conditions were not immediately known.

Karol Bagh, filled with shops and budget hotels, is popular with tourists.

Fire accidents are not uncommon in Indian cities, where builders often flout safety regulations.

Authorities appeared to have been negligent in enforcing building laws in the surrounding area, Delhi's urban development minister Satyendar Jain said.

Four people were killed in November past year in a factory fire in Beadonpura area in Karol Bagh after a solvent used for laundering clothes spilt out on the floor accidentally.

Building regulations and fire safety measures are routinely flouted by builders and incidents of fires are reported nearly every week from across the country.

Six people were also injured, they said.

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