At least 2 people were killed and many injured early on Thursday when a fire broke out at a hotel in south Kolkata, triggering memories of the December 2011 AMRI Hospital blaze that killed more than 90.
One of the dead has been identified as Chamar Kishan, 52, a resident of Odisha’s Sundargarh and an employee of Tata Steel. He was staying in room number 406 of the Golden Parkk Hotel on Ho Chi Minh Sarani. The other victim was 53-year-old Anup Agarwal from Surat in Gujarat.
The hotel is located just opposite the British deputy high commission and the US consulate general’s office and residence are also just a few buildings away on the same street.
Kishan and Agarwal were rushed to SSKM Hospital where they were declared ‘brought dead’. Two others were admitted to Woodlands Hospital and three more were treated at another hospital and discharged.
The death toll could have been higher if the disaster management group did not manage to evacuate 32 people from the hotel, officials said.
Hotel staff and guests noticed smoke and fire at the pantry at 3am. As the smoke quickly spread to other parts of the building through the central air conditioning system, some of the panic-stricken guests emerged through the window of their rooms and climbed down the pipes.
“We were in room number 302. There was a lot of smoke. We could hardly breathe. My friends and I somehow climbed down the pipes and saved ourselves. But some sustained injured in the process,” Nilanjan Palit, a guest at the hotel, said.
According to preliminary reports from the police, the fire caused extensive damage to the kitchen, some adjacent rooms, hotel furniture and equipment.
Sources said the fire department and disaster management group are looking into whether proper fire prevention mechanism was in place in the hotel.
There were chilling similarities with the AMRI fire on December 9, 2011. Both the accidents took place in the dead of night and in both cases, the smoke quickly spread through the central air conditioning system.
As in the case of AMRI, fire brigade personnel had to smash the hotel window panes to rescue guests and staff.