Fire in Delhi hotel kills 17, raises questions of safety

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At least 17 people were killed as a massive fire swept through a hotel in central Delhi's Karol Bagh area early Tuesday, police said.

At least 17 people died on Tuesday as a fire tore through a budget hotel in Delhi before dawn, in the latest disaster to raise concerns over fire safety in India.

A woman and a child died after they tried jumping from a window of the building.

Images showed thick smoke and flames billowing out of the top floor of the Hotel Arpit Palace in a congested part of the Indian capital.

The rescue took about 30 minutes because fire engine ladders could not initially reach Chand's floor, he said.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary said, "The fire has been doused".

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Guests at the hotel, popular with budget and business travellers, were unable to use corridors to escape because of wooden panelling, according to a fire officer.

Most of the victims were sleeping when the fire broke out, and it was believed to have been caused by a short circuit, according to media reports.

The injured were taken to hospitals, but their medical conditions were not immediately known. 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.

Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain later visited the site, ordered a magisterial inquiry after spotting building violations and asked the fire department to inspect similar buildings in the area. It was extinguished after a three-hour operation, with 35 people rescued.

On 7 February, a fire broke out in Metro Hospitals and Heart Institute in Noida, trapping several people inside the multi-storeyed building.

The hotel comprises of basement, ground floor and four other floors.

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