Death toll rises to 17 in India hotel fire

While the Delhi government ordered a magisterial probe, home minister Satyendar Jain said he has directed the fire department to inspect buildings which are five-storied or more and submit a report within a week.

About three dozen people were rescued from the hotel, Mr Paul said.

More than 20 fire crews were dispatched to the scene, officials said.

Authorities said an electrical short circuit may have started the fire, but added an investigation has just started to look into possible causes.

The dead included a woman and a child who tried to escape by jumping from a fifth-floor window of the 65-room hotel in the shopping district of Karol Bagh. Most of the deaths took place due to suffocation, the police said.

"There was wooden panelling on corridors because of which people could not use corridors to evacuate", another fire officer told reporters.

He said that the fire broke out on the first floor and within minutes it spread up to the third and fourth floors of the hotel, as the staircase and corridors were made of wood. Because of the ignorance, they don't understand how their lives have been put at risk by the rest in the "nobody club", who know "ways and means" to bypass the applicable rules and regulations for their "common benefit".

The injured were taken to local hospitals, but their medical conditions were not immediately known.

There were 53 people in the 45-room budget hotel, which had a canopy on the terrace, housing what appeared to be a restaurant. All norms were followed here. "Mishappening can occur in a house as well", he added. The fire department will also conduct an inquiry into the incident.

Building fires are particularly frequent in big Indian cities where millions live in cramped and dilapidated properties. No casualty was reported in the incident, PTI reported. "Many people were still fast asleep at that time", he said.