New Delhi, Feb 12 (ANI) In one of the worst fire tragedies in Delhi, 17 people, including a child and a woman, were killed on Tuesday as a major blaze engulfed a budget hotel in central Delhi, triggering a blame game among the various authorities.
At least 11 people suffered injuries while 35 were evacuated safely after the fire erupted at around 2.30 am in the Arpit Palace Hotel located in the congested commercial-cum-residential area of Karol Bagh, Fire Department officials said.
So far, 15 deceased people have been identified, three of whom were from Myanmar, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mandeep Randhawa told reporters.
The police has also set up a help desk to provide details to the relatives, he said.
The hotel's General Manager Rajender and Manager Vikas were arrested after a case of criminal negligence was registered against the hotel management, Randhawa added.
"Prima facie it looked like a case of willful negligence. An FIR has been registered against the hotel owner Shubendu Goyal," Randhawa said.
Sources said safety standards were missing in the hotel and regulations had been flouted.
The license to operate bar was given to the hotel owners for the ground floor, but the property's terrace had a kitchen for staff, which was converted into a bar for parties, sources said.
"Gas cylinders and an airconditioning plant both were on the terrace or top floor. There is heavy wooden panelling in the room. According to eyewitnesses, the smoke alarm did not work. There is no clear idea about a fire exit. The fire department claims they had a no objection certificate, but did not say anything about whether yearly safety audit was done or not," sources added.
After the fire broke out, the staff tried to control it on their own but it soon spread, Fire Department officials said.
It has been further alleged that the "glass windows were jammed."
"The windows failed to open when frightened guests attempted to open them. The guests then ran back into their room. In the room, bodies were found with clasped hands. Some bodies were found under the table. A woman's body was found with her child in a room. All electric plug points were loose. Fire spread from room no 109," the sources said.
Two hotel staff members jumped from the fourth floor of the hotel in an attempt to save themselves. Fire Department officials said.
Tuesday's fire mishap is perhaps the second biggest in Delhi since the 1997 Uphaar cinema incident in which 59 people were killed.
Delhi government ordered a magisterial probe into the fire tragedy with Minister for Home and Urban Development Satyendar Jain said, strict action would be taken against those found guilty.
This is a five-storey building and there is a temporary above it. The roof of the temporary construction is covered with a fibre sheet which is the reason for the fire. Most people died due to suffocation."
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the people who lost their lives in the accident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the kin of the deceased. Various leaders including Union Minister K J Alphons, BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi and Manoj Tiwari as well as Congress' K C Venugopal visited the injured in hospital.
Fire Officer Vipin Kental said, wooden panelling on the corridors in the hotel prevented people from using the corridors to escape.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary told ANI, "The fire has been doused. We have to look for bodies, if any, inside the hotel. Those injured have been sent to hospital.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Hotel Association claimed that all fire safety norms were followed and the licence was issued only after inspection of Hotel Arpit Palace. (ANI)