At least 17 people were killed this morning when a fire ravaged an economic hotel in Karol Bagh, Delhi, before dawn, in the latest disaster to raise concerns about fire safety in overcrowded markets.
The fire broke out at the Hotel Arpit Palace, in a congested area of downtown Delhi, Karol Bagh, with images that surrounded it all the way upstairs.
“We have confirmed with the hospital authorities, the number of deaths has increased to 17, including one child,” Sunil Choudhary, a fire department official, told AFP news agency.
The woman and the child died while trying to escape by jumping out of a window.
GC Misra, director of the Delhi fire brigade, said the fire had been controlled and firefighters rescued 35 people in an operation that lasted several hours.
“There were wooden panels in the corridors because people could not use the corridors to evacuate,” another firefighting officer told reporters.
The images showed dense smoke and flames coming from the top floor of the six-story hotel, popular with travelers on a budget. “The two upper floors of the hotel were built illegally,” said Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain.
The police said they were investigating the cause of the fire.
The fire was extinguished in the first hours with the help of at least 25 fire trucks, and the upper floors were destroyed. Fires are common in congested areas, especially in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, due to poor safety standards and lack of compliance with regulations. Activists say that builders and owners often cut safety limits to save costs and have accused the civic authorities of negligence and apathy.