The safety standards of budget accommodation providers in India have been called into question after a hotel fire killed at least 17 people in the country’s capital.
The fire began to rip through Arpit Palace Hotel in New Delhi while most of the victims were sleeping, and it was believed to have been caused by a short circuit, according to a number of media reports.
Deputy fire chief Virendra Singh told Reuters that at least 17 people had died from suffocation and not from the fire, adding that 35 people had been rescued from the five-floor hotel.
Fire officer Vipin Kental told broadcaster NDTV that among the dead were a woman and child, who tried to jump from the fifth floor of the hotel to escape the flames.
Authorities are still trying to locate a group of tourists from Myanmar who were also staying at the hotel.
The incident has drawn harsh criticism from Delhi’s urban development minister, Satyendar Jain, who told Reuters that authorities had been “a clear case of negligence” in enforcing building laws in the surrounding area.
Jain said the hotel had exceeded the construction limit of four floors by having an extra one, and that a kitchen and dining area on the hotel’s top floor was also a violation of construction laws.