In a massive fire that broke out at the four-storey Hotel Arpit Palace in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh in the early hours of Tuesday, 17 people were killed, including at least three Myanmar nationals, and three sustained injuries. The fire started around 2.30 a.m. but the fire service was alerted two hours later. About 25 fire tenders were pressed into service as soon as the call was received and 35 persons were rescued.
While 15 of the dead, including three members of a family from Kerala, have been identified, the identity of two could not be ascertained till evening.
The fire is suspected to have started from the first floor and spread to the upper floors mostly affecting the third, fourth floors and the rooftop where a restaurant was running.
An eye-witness who resides behind the hotel said that he saw people jumping from the windows to save themselves.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Chawdhary said: “We rescued about 35 people using the hydraulic lift after breaking windows. The operation went on for nearly five hours,” he said.
All those pulled out were rushed to different hospitals including Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, BL Kapoor Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Doctors said most deaths were due to suffocation.
The dead identified are: Vidyasagar, 60, Nalini Amma, 84, and Jayashree, 53, from Kerala; Nanda Kumar, 35, and Arvind Sukumaran, 50, from Tamil Nadu; Pranav Kumar Bhaskar of Bihar, 32, EVS Chalapathi Rao, 52, — Andhra Pradesh, Dawlma May, 67, Tun Hla Sein, 32, and Mya Mya Htwe, 45, — Myanmar; Rabia Menon, 50, — Surat; Tara Ram, 42, — Uttarakhand; and Suresh Kumar, 42, — Panchkula, besides Dr. Santosh Mahadev, 35, and Dr. Shankar Narayan Sheshadri, 52.
Three persons, Saumya Shrestha, 4, Beena, 50, and Chan Mya Mya Nyein sustained injuries.
Sources said the owners of the hotel which was running since the early 90s, were in possession of a No Objection Certificate which was taken in December 2017 and was valid till December 2020. A North Delhi Municipal Corporation official said the building was erected illegally in the early 90s. However, “The entire structure is under protection up to 2020,” the official said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said a case under section 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced compensation of ₹5 lakh to families of the 17 victims and ordered a magisterial probe into the cause of fire and alleged building bye-law violations.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said, “Manager Rajendra and general manager Vikas have been arrested. Owner Shubhendu Goyal is absconding.”