Asia

Karol Bagh: Seventeen die in Delhi hotel fire

The Hotel Arpit Palace after a fire broke out on its premises in New Delhi on February 12, 2019.Image copyright
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The hotel is popular with tourists on a budget

At least 17 people have died in a Delhi hotel fire that broke out early on Tuesday morning, police said.

Eyewitnesses said the dead included a woman and a child who attempted to jump from a window to safety.

Officials said 35 people were rescued. Some were injured and have been taken to hospital.

Hotel Arpit Palace is located in Karol Bagh, an area popular with tourists for its budget hotels and shopping.

At least two of those killed were Buddhist pilgrims from Myanmar (Burma), the country’s embassy in Delhi confirmed. A number of Indian guests also died.

Videos recorded by eyewitnesses show people jumping from the building – in one of them, a man can be seen hanging on to the side of the building before he jumps off.

“There was wooden panelling in the corridor, because of which people couldn’t use the corridors to leave the hotel,” firefighter Vipin Kenta told the Hindustan Times newspaper.

He said they were still investigating what caused the fire. Local media reported that most of the deaths were caused by suffocation.


‘There was no fire equipment’

Vineet Khare, BBC Hindi

I met Somshekhar sitting on a bench outside the mortuary of Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where the dead and injured from the hotel fire have been taken.

He was gazing vacantly at TV journalists gathering information and policemen completing paperwork.

Mr Somshekhar said he had come to Delhi to attend his niece’s wedding and was staying with his family on the second floor of the hotel.

The fire killed his 84-year-old mother, his brother and sister.

“There was a power cut at around 5am [23:30 GMT]. My sister who was in a nearby room shouted for help and asked everyone to get out. We opened the windows, but the smoke quickly filled the rooms. It all happened very quickly. There was no fire or emergency equipment,” he said.

Mr Somshekhar’s cousin and the bride’s mother, Uma Nair, said she had not told her daughter, who is on her honeymoon, about the tragedy.

“They are in the Maldives. My daughter has read news stories about the fire and keeps calling me. I tell her everything is fine. But it’s a matter of time before she finds out.”


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted his condolences.

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

Many structures, both old and new, lack proper fire exits. In recent months, officials have shut down a number of shops and restaurants in some of Delhi’s most exclusive neighbourhoods for not following fire safety measures.

Owners of commercial buildings have also been known to construct additional floors without the necessary permissions.

Delhi minister Satyendra Jain told the NDTV news website that the Arpit Palace had built a fifth floor with a kitchen and a terrace, even though the owners only had permission to build four storeys.

PTI quoted officials as saying that they had found used fire extinguishers inside the hotel, suggesting that some of those who were trapped had tried to put out the fire.


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