A fire diaster claimed the lives of 17 people at a budget hotel in Delhi on Tuesday, which led to the authorities to launch a safety check of other buildings in the vicinity.
Victims included a woman and a child who jumped from a window to escape the blaze that broke out before dawn at the budget Hotel Arpit Palace.
Guests at the hotel popular with budget and business travellers were unable to use corridors to escape because of wooden panelling, according to a fire officer.
Delhi home minister Satyendra Jain told reporters that rules were flouted to construct extra floors, with a terrace being used as an open air restaurant.
He also directed the fire department to inspect other buildings in the congested area and file a report within a week.
Three Myanmar citizens staying at the hotel were missing, the NDTV news network reported.
Most of the guests were sleeping at the time the fire broke out and suffocated to death, four people were injured in the incident.
It is estimated around 120 people were inside the hotel built around 25 years ago when the fire started.
“We have confirmed with hospital authorities the toll is now 17 including a child,” Sunil Choudhary, a senior fire brigade official, told AFP.
G.C. Misra, Delhi fire services director, said the blaze had been brought under control and that 35 people were rescued by firefighters in an operation lasting several hours and involving at least 25 fire engines.
“There was wooden panelling on corridors because of which people could not use corridors to evacuate,” another fire officer told reporters.
Police said they were investigating the cause, and a judicial probe has been ordered into the latest disaster to raise concerns over fire safety in India.
The hotel is in the Karol Bagh district, a busy commercial centre criss-crossed by narrow alleys where electric wires dangle overhead.
The area, which houses hundreds of hotels, shops and offices, is packed with tourists and shoppers.
Three members of an extended family were among the dead. They were part of a group of 13 from southern Kerala state who had come to Delhi for a wedding.