Emergency doors closed, deaths due to suffocation: Know all about the Delhi hotel fire

New Delhi: The hotel in Delhi’s Karol Bagh where 17 people were killed in a massive fire on Tuesday had its emergency exits locked and were ‘too narrow’, Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons told reporters after visiting the site.

The minister, who visited the site of the tragedy in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh locality, said he was sure that there would be violation of norms.

The Union tourism 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,” he told reporters.

“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.

While many of the victims were charred to death or suffocated in the poisonous fumes, at least three people were killed when they reportedly jumped off the building in desperate attempts to escape the blaze.

Here are the major updates about the incident:

  • The fire started at around 3:30 am on Tuesday, catching a lot of guests unguarded in their sleep. According to fire officer Vipin Kental, people were also unable to use the corridors for evacuation due to wooden panelling throughout.
  • The cause of the fire is still unknown, but prima facie it seems, a short circuit could have led to the accident.
  • According to a PTI report, “As per information gathered from the site, it reveals that the incidence of fire started at second floor at around 3.30 AM on February 12 due to short-circuit,” a North Delhi Municipal Corporation official said.
  • There were 53 people in the 45-room budget hotel, which had a canopy on the terrace housing what appeared to be a restaurant, sources say.
  • Indicating another problem area, Sandip Khandelwal, president of the Delhi Hotel and Restaurants Owners Association, claimed fire tenders reached 15-20 minutes late because the area was barricaded for security purposes at night and fire tenders had to take a longer route to reach the hotel.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who condoled the loss of lives.
  • While Delhi Health Minsiter Satyendra Jain was among the first to reach the spot, where he took stock of the situation and ordered the district magistrate to investigate the matter.
  • Soon after, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for the next of kin of those killed. “It is a very tragic incident. It seems that there may have been some lapses. A magisterial probe has been ordered to investigate the cause of the incident,” he said while addressing the media.
  • The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also cancelled its evening plans to celebrate their four years in power.