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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Arpit Palace hotel fire: Screams woke up guests, charred bodies on every floor

Several people in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, where a fire at Arpit Palace hotell killed 17 people on Tuesday, said they remembered screams piercing the early morning silence.

delhi Updated: Feb 13, 2019 13:53 IST
Anvit Srivastava and Shiv Sunny
Anvit Srivastava and Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A woman is seen talking over the phone through the broken window after a massive fire broke out at Hotel Arpit Palace, in Karol Bagh in New Delhi, on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.
A woman is seen talking over the phone through the broken window after a massive fire broke out at Hotel Arpit Palace, in Karol Bagh in New Delhi, on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT Photo )
         

The first responders to the Karol Bagh hotel fire on Tuesday described the scene inside the hotel as “horrific and dreadful” — bodies were found charred on almost every floor, many holding hands.

Several people in the locality said they remembered screams piercing the early morning silence.

“I woke up to shrieks and cries,” said Dilip G Trivedi, a medical representative from Ahmedabad and a guest at the hotel who survived the blaze. “I realised there was smoke in my room on the first floor. Outside, people were rushing in the corridors heading for the exits. It was like a stampede. Once we were out, we saw one person jumping from the fourth floor.”

Twenty-two-year-old Himanshu, was on his way to college in Rajendra Nagar at 8am when he heard of the fire. His father Lal Chand was as a supervisor in Hotel Arpit Palace’s kitchen.

Watch: At least 9 dead as fire breaks out at Hotel Arpit in Delhi

“When I reached the hotel, I saw a massive gathering. The firefighters and policemen were fishing out bodies from the building. I immediately informed my family and they too arrived,” Himanshu said.

With no information on Chand, his family began to do the rounds of the hospitals.

”We went to Ram Manohar Lohia and Lady Hardinge hospital but they had no information either. We even went to AIIMS and Safdarjung, but failed. Authorities have not been able to find him either,” he said.

Police believe Chand could be among the two bodies yet to be identified.

“There was no electricity and it was a stampede as everyone fought to escape,” said deputy chief fire officer Sunil Choudhary, describing the scene inside. “Bodies were found on every floor. People were found dead holding each other’s hands. It looked like the hotel staff had abandoned the guests.”

Out of the 17 reported dead, three were from Kerala as part of their extended family in Delhi to attend a wedding.

Surendra Kumar, a member of the family, who was on the second floor, said, “Around 4 am I woke up to my sister-in-law screaming. I opened the door and there was smoke all around the corridor. I could smell a strong stench. As I headed down the corridor, I saw the blaze and rushed to wake others up.”