17 killed in fire at shoddy New Delhi hotel, 4 others hurt

The Arpit Palace Hotel is reflected in a puddle after an early morning fire at the hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Unidentified relatives wait outside a mortuary to receive bodies of those who died in a hotel fire in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. A fire engulfed a shoddily built budget hotel in central New Delhi early Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Policemen and others stand at the spot after an early morning fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Hotel guests talk to police officials as they come back to identify their belongings after an early morning fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Unidentified relatives gather outside after an early morning fire killed more than a dozen people at a hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this photo provided by Sivanand Chand, a hotel guest who was rescued, firefighters rescue people during an early morning fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. More than a dozen people were killed. (Sivanand Chand via AP)
Onlookers gather after an early morning fire at a hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Policemen and others stand at the spot after an early morning fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
The Arpit Palace Hotel is reflected in a puddle after an early morning fire at the hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A bird flies above the Arpit Palace Hotel where an early morning fire killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Hotel guests arrive to identify their belongings after an early morning fire killed more than a dozen people at the Arpit Palace Hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A man holds personal valuables of his relative who died as relatives wait outside a mortuary to receive bodies of those who died in a hotel fire in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. A fire engulfed a shoddily built budget hotel in central New Delhi early Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A rescuer from the National Disaster Response Force speaks on the mobile phone after an early morning fire killed more than a dozen people at the Arpit Palace Hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
The Arpit Palace Hotel is reflected in a puddle after an early morning fire at the hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
In this photo provided by Sivanand Chand, a hotel guest who was rescued, firefighters rescue people during an early morning fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. More than a dozen people were killed. (Sivanand Chand via AP)
The Arpit Palace Hotel is seen after an early morning fire at the hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A fire official rolls up a hosepipe after extinguishing an early morning fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. More than a dozen people were killed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A rescuer from the National Disaster Response Force speaks on the mobile phone after an early morning fire killed more than a dozen people at the Arpit Palace Hotel in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Hotel guests arrive to salvage their belongings after an early morning fire at a hotel killed more than a dozen people in the Karol Bagh neighborhood of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI — A fire engulfed a shoddily built budget hotel in central New Delhi early Tuesday, killing 17 people and injuring at least four others, including a woman from Myanmar who leaped from an upper floor to escape the flames, Indian authorities said.

Three of those killed were members of a family who had traveled to India's capital from Kerala in southern India to attend a wedding, family friend Arvind Vishwanathan said outside a hospital mortuary.

Most of the deaths at the Arpit Palace Hotel in Karol Bagh, an area in India's capital city popular with tourists because of its shops and budget hotels, were due to suffocation, said Satyendar Kumar Jain, the Delhi government minister of health and urban development, as he toured the site after the fire was extinguished.

The hotel developer had a permit from the fire department to build up to four stories — the standard height in central Delhi. But the building appeared to have six floors, including a basement and a kitchen built on top of the roof, Jain said.

"Carelessness on the part of authorities is evident. We are going to investigate, and the wrongdoer will be punished," he said.

Hotel guest Sivanand Chand, 43, said he was jolted awake around 4 a.m., struggling to breathe.

"When I got out of my room, I could hear 'help, help!' from adjoining rooms," Chand said.

The hallway was dark and thick with smoke, so Chand turned back into his room and opened a window. He saw flames rising fast.

"In 15 minutes, the whole room was black," he said.

A video shot by a worker at a nearby hotel showed flames consuming the top of the building, which authorities said contained an unauthorized makeshift kitchen formed from sheets of fiberglass.

Chand said rescue efforts were delayed because the first fire trucks arrived with manual ladders that weren't tall enough to reach his floor.

He and some other guests were eventually evacuated through his window by a hydraulic lift.

Some 100 firefighters and 25 fire engines responded to the fire, which engulfed all but the ground floor of the hotel, fire officer Vijay Paul said.

About three dozen people were rescued, Paul said.

It was not immediately clear how many guests and staff were inside the hotel, which had 43 guest rooms, according to its website.

Rescuers had to break windows to evacuate people because wood paneling in the corridors and stairwells fed the flames, said fire official Atul Garg.

"That is the escape route. People have to come out of the room and take the staircase but the staircase itself was on fire, so how they will go out?" Garg said.

In a video Garg shared with The Associated Press, firefighters can be seen carrying victims slumped over their shoulders through an unlit, charred stairwell.

Authorities were still investigating what sparked the blaze, Deputy Police Commissioner Mandeep Singh Randhawa said.

Among those injured was a woman from Myanmar who sustained spinal injuries after jumping from an upper floor, according to Deputy Fire Chief Sunil Choudhary. She was being treated at a local hospital, he said, declining to provide her name.

The other injured people were also taken to hospitals, but their conditions were not immediately known.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet that he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives. "I convey my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. May the injured recover soon."

___

Editorial assistant Chonchui Ngashangva contributed to this report.

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