10-min checkout delay proves fatal for Kerala tourists
It was just a gap of 10 minutes that proved to be fatal for the tourists from Kerala as they were almost ready to leave for Haridwar. The power went off and before they could plumb it, thick smoke had enveloped the hotel. Somshekhar and his family were caught unaware as plumes of thick smoke ran through their floor at Hotel Arpit Palace. However, a foul smell created fear and they realised there was something amiss. Their plan to visit Hardwar was in jeopardy.
An inconsolable Somshekhar identified the bodies his mother Nalini Amma (84), elder brother Vidyasagar (60) and sister Jayashree (53) at RML Hospital mortuary. They were missing since the fire broke out on the second floor, the floor on which they had booked rooms no 201,203, 204 and 205.
The family had come from Ernakulam district in Kerala to attend a wedding in Ghaziabad.
Besides, Somshekhar, 12 of his family members were staying at the hotel in Karol Bagh.
“We had come from Ernakulam district in Kerala on February 7 to attend a wedding of a relative in Ghaziabad. We had moved to this hotel on February 10 and we were planning to go to Haridwar today morning,” said Somshekhar.
“We all were getting ready for Haridwar when there was a sudden power cut. The hotel staff switched on the generator and there was heavy smoke and smell.
My sister had first spotted the smoke and informed us. The entire pathway was full of smoke and stench and that made it difficult for us to see the pathway,” said Somshekhar. “My mother and brother were with sister and I rushed to open the windows to allow the smoke to pass and to find a possible exit route,” he said with tears rolling down his cheeks.
“The family had gone to Vrindawan on Monday and returned late night and they had planned to visit Hardwar. They had also planned to visit Wagah border and leave for Kerala on February 15,” said Raj Sekhar Nayyar, a relative of the family.
Somshekhar said he has no knowledge what started the fire. But, he stressed, he believes negligence on part of the hotel management must have triggered the tragedy.
According to the available information, there were more than 50 guests at the hotel, which had a canopy on the terrace, housing what appeared to be a restaurant, officials said. At least 35 people were injured in the fire.
According to fire department, an eyewitness of the incident told them that he had seen a short-circuit on first floor. A video of the incident showed two people jumping from the fourth floor of the building.
Babu Panikar, head of Delhi Malayali Association, said, “I got to know that Malayali’s were trapped inside. I rushed to the spot to check on them. It’s a group of 13 members belonging to same family who came from Ernakulam to attend a wedding in Ghaziabad.
“Around 10 of them were rescued safely while three bodies have been identified. They are ready to go to Hardwar this morning at around 6 am. Two of them family members left for Mumbai on Monday”, Panicker said.
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 | SHEKHAR SINGH/CHANDAN PRAKASH | NEW DELHI
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