THREE tourists from Myanmar, a Surat-based lawyer, a wedding party from Kerala and an IRS officer from Panchkula who had made Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh his home for the last three months. They were among the people who died Tuesday in the early morning blaze in New Delhi.
By evening, 12 people had been identified, and the mortuaries at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) and BLK Hospital reverberated with loss, disbelief and anger.
Among the distraught family members was Suman Kumari (24), who had come to identify her cousin Pranav Kumar Bhaskar, a 32-year-old Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited employee in Hyderabad.
“He arrived two days ago, and that’s when I spoke to him. He was supposed to go back home to his wife and their two children today. His parents live in Patna. I identified his body,” said a visibly shaken Delhi-resident Kumari.
Since 7 am, Gyan, a Buddhist monk, scoured across hospitals looking for two Myanmarese nationals. After getting in touch with their families and accessing their photos, he finally identified two bodies at 4 pm at LHMC hospital.
“I don’t know them but I have been looking for them. They reached Delhi on Monday and visited ISKCON temple. They were supposed to leave today. I will ensure their bodies are taken home as their relatives can’t come to India this early,” said Gyan, as he offered prayers at each hospital.
Outside the RML mortuary sat Surat-based lawyer Rabia Memom’s son and her family friends. In the afternoon, her son, a college student in Delhi, broke down as her name was added to the list of those who died.
“She reached Delhi late Monday night and was here with a colleague for a court case hearing on Tuesday. Her husband passed away a few years ago of an illness. We will fly her body to Surat for the last rites on Wednesday,” said a family associate.
At 4 am Tuesday, Nalini Amma (84) and her daughter Jayashree (53) woke up in their room on the second floor of the hotel, to get ready for their trip to Haridwar, but within minutes, smoke had filled the room and the top portion of the hotel was up in flames. “While several people died of asphyxiation, there were some who were badly charred, and Nalini Amma was one of them,” said a Delhi Disaster Management official.
The two were a part of the wedding party of 13 which had travelled from Kochi and were staying at the hotel since February 8. Amma’s son Vidyasagar (60), too, died in the fire.