Delhi Karol Bagh Hotel Fire: FIR Against Owner, 2 Staff Arrested

Delhi Karol Bagh Hotel Fire: FIR Against Owner, 2 Staff Arrested

India

Two people have been arrested in connection with Delhi's Karol Bagh hotel fire which took away 17 lives in the early hours of Tuesday, 12 February.

The blaze started in the second floor of the Arpit Palace Hotel in the heart of the national capital around 3:30 am, trapping many guests who were deep in sleep. The deceased include a child and two people who jumped off the building in a desperate bid to save themselves, officials said.

There were 53 people in the 45-room hotel, which had a canopy on the terrace housing what appeared to be a restaurant, officials said.

A call about the fire was received at 4:35 am and 24 fire tenders were rushed to the spot, a senior Delhi Fire Service official said.

Also Read : In Pics: Fire Tragedy at Hotel Arpit Palace In Delhi’s Karol Bagh

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FIR Filed Against Absconding Hotel Owner, 2 Arrested

“15 bodies have been identified till now. The investigation is on and prima facie suggests willful negligence on the part of hotel authorities. An FIR has been registered against the hotel owner Shubendu Goyal,” M S Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central District) said on Tuesday evening, adding that the investigation of this case will be transferred to the crime branch.

The police also arrested hotel's general manager Rajender and manager Vikas on the charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Out of the 17 dead, 12 bodies have been identified as male and rest five have been identified as female. The police, DCP added, had focused on rescue operations primarily and to provide medical help to the survivors on Tuesday.

The hotel was first granted a licence in October 2005 and was renewed every year. The last renewal was done on May 25, 2018 and was valid till March 31, said an official of North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Delhi Govt Announces Rs 5 Lakh Compensation For Deceased’s Family

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who reached the site of the incident later in the day, announced a compensation of Rs 5 Lakh each to the kin of the deceased.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, meanwhile, has cancelled the four years of AAP government celebrations scheduled for Tuesday evening in wake of the incident, ANI reported.

Also Read : To Escape Karol Bagh Fire, Two People Fall to Their Death

"A 43-year-old woman suffered 45 percent burn injuries," Madhur Verma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) told reporters, adding that 13 of the bodies had been taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, two to Lady Hardinge Hospital and one to BLK hospital.

Of the dead, five have been identified – three are from Kerala and two from Myanmar. Another tourist from Myanmar, Chan Chan, escaped through the window and climbed down a wire till the first floor.

Speaking to The Quint, she said, “The wire was broken after the first floor so I fell down and fractured my hip.” She is recovering at the Lady Hardinge hospital.

According to eyewitnesses, most deaths were caused due to suffocation.

A wedding party had booked a large part of the 35-room hotel and most of the victims were sleeping when the fire broke out.

Emergency Exit of Hotel Locked, Says Alphons

Union minister KJ Alphons has claimed that the emergency exit of the Arpit Palace hotel was "too narrow" and was also locked.

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.

Delhi Fire services director GC Mishra said, "When the fire tenders reached the spot, flames were leaping out of the building. Many people were still fast asleep at that time," he added.

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but NDMC sources quoted by PTI said that prima facie, it looks to be a short circuit.

Also Read : Leaned Out of Window to Keep Breathing: Delhi Hotel Fire Survivor

‘People Jumped Off Building to Save Themselves’

A video of the incident showed two people jumping from the fourth floor of the burning building in a bid to escape the blaze. Both of them did not survive the fall, sources told The Quint.

Fire Officer Vipin Kental said that wooden paneling along the hotel’s corridor prevented people from evacuating the building.

“The fire has been extinguished now and a cooling operation has been launched,” Kental added.

Also Read : Karol Bagh Hotel Fire: Did the Hotel Flout Fire Safety Norms?

Delhi Govt Orders Magisterial Probe

The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial probe into the fire incident, Home Minister Satyendar Jain said.

Jain, who visited the site of the incident told reporters that he has also directed the fire department to inspect buildings which are five floors or more and submit a report on their fire safety compliance within a week.

“We have ordered for a magisterial inquiry into the case. Seventeen people have died, most of them of suffocation. Apparently, there were lapses (from the hotel administration’s side) and action will taken against those found guilty,” he said.

Generally, four floors are allowed for such establishments, the minister said.

"We saw a canopy was put up on the terrace and tables and chairs were laid out. Inside in the rooms, wooden panels were there on the walls," Jain said.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, meanwhile, has cancelled the four years of AAP government celebrations scheduled for Tuesday evening in wake of the incident, ANI reported.

Also Read : PM, Dikshit and Others Offer Condolences After Karol Bagh Fire

‘All Norms Followed; Incident a Mishap’

Balan Mani, Delhi Hotel Association Vice President, dubbed the incident a mishap and said that all norms were followed while issuing the license to the hotel.

“The fire spread via the ducting to the hotel rooms. Mishaps can occur in a house as well,” he said.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI & IANS)

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