Hotel fire: Closed emergency exit doors to blame

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"It was due to fire in ducting because of which it spread to the hotel rooms".

The minister, who visited the site of the tragedy in central Delhi's Karol Bagh locality, said he was sure that there would be a violation of norms. Those staying in the hotel included a group of tourists from Myanmar, broadcaster NDTV said, adding that authorities were trying to ascertain their whereabouts.

Most of the guests were sleeping at the time the fire broke out and suffocated to death.

At least 35 others were rescued from the five-storey building.

Twenty-five fire engines responded to the blaze, which had engulfed all but the ground floor of the five-story hotel, fire officer Vijay Paul said.

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

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The cause of the fire is yet to be known, though officials suspect a short circuit might have triggered it.

The hotel is in the Karol Bagh district, a busy commercial centre crisscrossed by narrow alleys where electric wires dangle overhead.

Fire accidents are not uncommon in Indian cities, where builders often flout safety regulations. Eyewitnesses said several people jumped out of the upper floors to save their lives.

Generally, four floors are allowed for such establishments, the minister said. We saw dark smoke coming out of the hotel building. But the building appeared to have six floors, including a basement and a kitchen built on top of the roof, Jain said.

More than a dozen people were killed. In 2017, 14 people were killed, also in Mumbai, when a huge blaze roared through a popular restaurant.