At least 17 people, including a Keralite, died and 66 others were injured in a major fire that broke out in a central Delhi hotel early on Tuesday. "Three people are injured", GC Misra, the director of Delhi Fire Services, told AFP.
A large wedding party had booked out most of the hotel, and most of the victims were sleeping when the fire began. TV reports say that several people tried to save their lives by jumping off from the fourth floor.
The fire is believed to have been caused by a short circuit but the evacuation was hampered by narrow corridors, panelled in wood.
Video recorded on cellphones by eye-witnesses showed huge flames crowning the terrace of the white six-storey building.
The fire broke out at Arpit Palace Hotel located on Gurudwara Road in Karol Bagh. "There was a wooden paneling on the corridor because of which people were not able to use corridors to evacuate, therefore two people jumped off the building", Vipin Kental, a fire official said, ANI reported.
The incident raised fresh questions about safety standards in poorly regulated hotels catering to the less affluent.
Rescue and police personnel at the site of a massive blaze at Hotel Arpit Palace on Tuesday, after the fire had been doused. Balan Mani, Delhi Hotel Association Vice President said, "It was due to fire in ducting because of which it had spread to the hotel rooms".
The hotel comprises a basement, a ground floor and four other floors.
Building regulations and fire safety measures are routinely flouted by builders and incidents of fires are reported nearly every week from across the country.
The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial probe into the matter, home minister Satyendar Jain said.
Unconfirmed reports say the death toll is likely to rise as numerous injured jumped from the burning building to the ground.