2 Victims Jump To Their Death, Most Suffocate
Somreet Bhattacharya, Sidharth Bhardwaj & Pankhuri Yadav TNN
New Delhi: In one of the deadliest fire tragedies in the capital in recent years, 17 people were killed, many of them in their sleep, after an early morning blaze spread swiftly through AC ducts and turned a five-storey hotel in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh into a death trap on Tuesday.
Firemen and police mounted a four-hour-long rescue operation, entering rooms of the Arpit Palace Hotel by breaking open glass windows and carrying unconscious guests to safety. They managed to rescue 35 people from the hotel.
Among the dead were three Myanmar nationals, three members of a family from Kerala who had come to attend a wedding and two officials from
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited. At least two persons, including an IRS officer, jumped off the building to escape the blaze and died.
While five of the deceased are likely to have succumbed to burn injuries, most of the others died of asphyxiation after inhaling smoke and falling unconscious, initial medical reports indicate. Five women and a child were among those killed. Five others were being treated in hospitals.
Police have arrested the hotel general manager, Rajender Kumar, and the manager, Vikas, DCP (central) Mandeep Randhawa said. He added that Sharvendu Goyal, who is the licencee of the hotel, and his brother, Rakesh Goyal, have also been booked and the role of others is being ascertained. An FIR under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide) and 308 (attempt to commit homicide) of the IPC has been registered.
The blaze was reported to the fire brigade around 4.35am and 26 fire tenders were sent to the spot. The blaze was brought under control by 7.30am and cooling operations were launched at 8am. The dousing operations continued till noon after which the survivors were allowed to enter their rooms to collect their belongings.
Police said, when the fire broke out, 40 of the 45 rooms in the hotel were occupied by guests, many of whom were from an extended family in Kerala who had come to attend a wedding in Ghaziabad. The two senior HPCL officials who died in the fire were among six company officials who had come for the Petrotech conference. They were accommodated in the hotel after another hotel in the vicinity reported full occupancy.
Cops have seized the registers in which details of the occupants were entered, using which the injured and the deceased are being identified. It was found that hotel authorities had also not collected identity proofs from all the guests, police say.
IRS officer dies on 21st wedding anniv
IRS officer Suresh Kumar had been asked by his wife to take leave to celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary on Tuesday. He refused and was on the hotel’s fourth floor when the fire broke out. He was seen jumping out of a window to save himself. Kumar, an assistant commissioner with the I-T department, died in hospital due to fractures and head injuries. P 4
Three of a Kerala family lose their lives
Barely an hour later, Nalini Amma (84), son P C Vidyasagar (59) and daughter P C Jayasree (53) were to check out of the hotel for a visit to Haridwar. But, when the fire broke out, Nalini was unable to run to safety. Her son and daughter rushed to assist her, but all three died in the blaze. They were part of a group of 14 people from Kerala who had come to Delhi for a wedding. P 4
Cluster of 200 hotels a ticking time bomb
Around 200 hotels clustered on Tank Road and Gurdwara Road in Karol Bagh are ticking time bombs. While all of them had managed to procure fire safety clearances, they were found flouting rules rampantly. From rooftop restaurants to bars in the basement, most of the owners have installed wooden flooring and fibre glass ceilings in disregard of norms. P 5
Some of the bodies yet to be identified, forensic teams preserve DNA samples
The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained though officials suspect a short circuit in the AC may have triggered it. The fire could have originated on the first floor (room number 109) and spread through the AC ducts. However, a probe is underway to confirm these.
A forensic team later visited the hotel to collect samples.
Two of the bodies, including that of a 15-year-old boy are yet to be identified and medical teams have preserved the DNA samples to expediate the identification process.
Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik has transferred the case to the crime branch. A magisterial probe has also been ordered by the Delhi government and the fire department is conducting an inquiry as well.
Thirteen people were rushed to RML Hospital where they were declared dead on arrival. Three people were taken to Lady Hardinge Hospital, where two deaths and two of them died. Three people were admitted to BLK Super Speciality Hospital of which two died during treatment.
Three of the victims were taken to Sir Gangaram Hospital where they are undergoing treatment.
Preliminary medical examination revealed that eight of the victims died due to asphyxiation while five had also suffered severe bur ns.
Some of the survivors suffered from breathlessness and had to be provided oxygen support. They were shifted to the nearby hotels.
The deceased have been identified as Jayasree PC
(53), her brother PC Vidyasagar (59), Aravinth Sukumaran (35), Nand Kumar (34), Chalpatirao EVS (50), Pranav Kumar (33), P Nalini Amma
(84), Rabia Jusafbhai (52), Htumhla Sein (32), Dawhla May (67), Dr Shankar Narayan Sheshadri (52), Dr Santosh Mahadev (35), Suresh Kumar
(52), Tara Chand (30) and Mya Mya Htwe (45).