The wooden panelling on the floors of the hotel acted as a catalyst and prevented people from running down. (Image Credit: PTI)
Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons on Tuesday said the emergency exit of the Arpit Palace hotel, a 3-star hotel on Gurudwara Road at Karol Bagh in Central Delhi where 17 people were killed in a fire that broke out early today, was ‘too narrow’ and also locked. Alphons, who visited the site of the tragedy, said he was sure that there would be violation of norms. The minister said there were a lot of wooden structures inside, which may have helped the fire spread.
"When I headed to the emergency exit, I found that it had been locked yesterday (last night). Also, it was too narrow. Obviously, even if people came to the emergency exit, they could not have escaped as it was too narrow and it was locked anyway," he said.
Alphons said he spoke to the Mayor and asked him to check whether all regulations were in place and to take immediate action if there was any lapse on the part of the hotel management. Meanwhile, the Delhi government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the dead.
Earlier, seventeen people were killed and several injured in a massive fire that broke out in Delhi’s Karol Bagh area in the early morning hours today. While many of the victims were suffocated or charred to death, reports suggest that at least three people were killed when they reportedly jumped off the building in desperate attempts to escape the blaze.
There was a short circuit in the kitchen which caused a fire to break out at 4 am, and it quickly spread on to the other areas. The wooden panelling on the floors acted as a catalyst and prevented people from running down.
Though there have been several cases of fire in the national capital but the Karol Bagh hotel tragedy has claimed most lives in recent past. In 1986, a major fire broke out in Siddharth Hotel in Vasant Vihar. The blaze had killed 37 and injured 39 people. Later, it was renamed as the Vasant Continental. Owned by Jaypee Group, the hotel was a 10-storey luxury hotel in 1980. Several foreigners were also killed in the blaze.