Asia-Pacific

Seventeen killed in New Delhi hotel fire

A fire that started before dawn in a hotel in central New Delhi has killed 17 people, with most of the victims asleep when the blaze broke out.

At least 17 people have died after fire engulfed a hotel in the heart of New Delhi.

The fire broke out before dawn at the five-storey Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh, an area popular with budget tourists.

Among the victims were a woman and child, who were killed when they tried jumping from a window to escape the blaze.

News reports said there were about 150 people asleep in the 65-room hotel when the blaze broke out on Tuesday.

"A total of 17 people have died and two are injured, still at hospitals," senior fire services official Vipin Kental said, adding that the blaze had been brought under control.

Firefighters rescued 35 people from the hotel.

"The fire broke out from the top floors, likely due to an electric short-circuit," Kental said.

"Since it was early morning, most of the victims were sleeping and died due to suffocation."

A group of tourists from Myanmar were among the hotel guests, and two Myanmar nationals have been confirmed dead.

Kental said the hotel was operating a make-shift restaurant from the top floor with inflammable fibre-glass sheets that violated fire safety norms.

Fire safety apparatus was missing and there was no proper fire exit plan, reports said.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said strict action would be taken against those responsible for the incident.

"Magistrate enquiry ordered. Visible violations of building by laws, building constructed 6 storeys including one temporary floor instead of permissible 4 floors. Ordered fire inspection of buildings in the area," Jain tweeted.

Myanmar guest Chan Chan was injured while fleeing the inferno, and told news portal The Quint "everything was in flames".

"I spotted a wire outside and thought I could climb down with its help," she said.

"However the wire broke after I reached the first floor. I fell down and fractured my hip."

Deadly fires are common in India and are often made worse by poor safety measures and a lack of fire escapes.

The fires are often caused by substandard or ageing electrical material.

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