At least 17 people have been killed in a blaze that tore through a hotel in central Delhi.
The fire struck the four-storey Hotel Arpit Palace in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and is suspected to have started from the first floor before working its way upwards.
According to The Hindu, the third and fourth floors as well as the rooftop, where a restaurant operated, were the worst affected areas.
Although it took around two hours for the fire service to be alerted to the blaze, around 35 people were rescued.
Among the victims were three members of a family from South India attending a wedding and three Myanmar nationals, along with two people yet to be identified.
“We rescued about 35 people using the hydraulic lift after breaking the windows. The operation went on for nearly five hours,” Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Chawdhary said.
One witness said they saw people jumping from windows to save themselves, while other described scenes of terror.
“I woke up to shrieks and cries,” Ahmedabad medical representative and hotel guest Dilip G Trivedi said.
“I realised there was smoke in my room on the first floor. Outside, people were rushing in the corridors heading for the exits. It was like a stampede. Once we were out, we saw one person jumping from the fourth floor.”
According to the Hindustan Times, the fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical short circuit.
Delhi Fire Services chief fire officer Atul Garg said safety protocols had been breached since the hotel had received its ‘no-objection certificate’ in late 2017, hinting that the restaurant had been operating illegally.
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