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Posted at: Feb 13, 2019, 6:55 AM; last updated: Feb 13, 2019, 9:51 AM (IST)

Massive fire in Delhi hotel snuffs out 17 lives

11 from Kerala family among dead; magisterial probe ordered

Prateek Chauhan & Ananya Panda 
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 12

A massive fire in Delhi's Karol Bagh area on Tuesday snuffed out 17 lives, including 11 members of one family from Ernakulam district of Kerala. 

The deaths largely occurred due to suffocation caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, said senior doctors at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where 13 victims were declared brought dead. A child and three women were killed in the incident.

Read: Delhi hotel where blaze killed 17 didn't have fire-safety measures in place

The incident, which once again flags how building bylaws are being grossly flouted in the national capital with little monitoring by the city authorities, happened at Arpit Palace Hotel at around 4.48 am in central Delhi after a fire broke out due to a short circuit on the first floor of the hotel.
Inside the four-floor hotel there were a total of 120 people, including guests and staff, who were asleep while the blaze gradually spread to other floors leaving people trapped, as per the Delhi Fire Service (DFS).

There was just "one emergency exit that was closed" and fire safety measures were not in place, said DFS officer Sunil Choudhary.

DCP MS Randhawa said the owner of the hotel Subhendu Goyal is at large while other accused hotel's general manager Rajendra and manager Vikas have been detained for questioning. 

The case has been transferred to the crime branch, Randhawa told reporters.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to next of kin of the victims of the fire tragedy after visiting the spot.

A magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident and the officials of Delhi Fire Service were directed by Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain to conduct an inspection of the entire area in Karol Bagh where several buildings appeared to be of five or six-storey in clear violations of Delhi building bylaws. 

The hotel had an additional temporary floor while only four floors and a parking are allowed.

"Gross violations of building bylaws was noticed in the area as well in the (Arpit Palace) hotel," said the minister after an inspection of the site.

Serious negligence seems to have led to these many deaths with there being little ventilation in the building, with jammed windows and wooden floors in passages, said the minister, adding that people who were trapped have died due to suffocation rather than burns.

Head of the Burns Department at Dr RML Hospital, Dr Yogesh Tyagi told The Tribune, "In four cases they seem to have died due to shock due to flame burns while in nine cases it seems to be asphyxia (suffocation) due to smoke."

RML hospital's Dr Tejasvi said of the total, 13 who were declared brought dead, four-five bodies were charred beyond recognition. "Ideally in a closed space whenever a fire breaks out people die due to suffocation and spreading fire is the secondary cause," he said, adding though final reports will eventually confirm it.

Five bodies have been handed over to families after autopsy, as per authorities.

In total, 19 persons have been casualties, including two injured, while 35-40 people were rescued.

They were rushed to nearby government and private hospitals.

As per DCP MS Randhawa, 15 of the 17 deceased have been identified. Eleven members of a family who were killed in the incident checked into the hotel yesterday from Kerala to attend a wedding in Ghaziabad.

Jain ordered the fire department to conduct an inspection of Karol Bagh and submit report in a week. Fire officials have been told to report with details daily, he said. 

Talking to reporters, Kejriwal said the cause of the fire and the nature of violations by the hotel are being ascertained. The cause of the fire shall be ascertained by Delhi Fire Service, stated a report submitted by District Magistrate office in Daryaganj.

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