At least nine Norwegian nationals were hospitalised following smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in the basement of The Park, a five-star hotel in Connaught Place, on Saturday morning. Delhi Police and Delhi Fire Services (DFS) alleged that the hotel staff did not inform them about the fire for over two and a half hours, with a PCR call eventually being made at 11.45 am.
“The hotel staff tried dousing flames in the basement themselves and they thought they did that, but the smoke entered the AC duct. The smoke then entered the rooms of the guests, who then raised an alarm. We only got a call at 12.25 pm,” DFS director Atul Garg said.
A case under sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire) and 337 (causing hurt) of the IPC has been registered against the hotel, said Additional DCP (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav.
The injured were rushed to Ganga Ram Hospital, from where the doctors made a PCR call about the incident. Among those staying at the hotel was Anil Prabhakar (62), a Norwegian national, with 34 of his guests, who are in the city after attending his daughter’s wedding in Chandigarh.
“My guests are here from Porsgrunn. After a visit to Agra, they checked into the hotel on February 13, and were supposed to leave Sunday. Around 9 am, my wife and I left our room on the fifth floor and smelt smoke in the corridor. We figured there was a fire but no fire alarms rang. The hotel tried to hush up the fire by knocking on doors quietly; they didn’t even ring bells,” alleged Prabhakar.
He posted a fire SOS on a Facebook group he had made for his guests to rush them out of rooms. On the fourth floor were Joachim Kvam (29), a salesman, and Abdiweli Bashir Ali (30), a personal trainer from Norway.
Kvam said, “I was woken up by the smell of smoke coming through the air conditioner ducts. It was suffocating.” Ali alleged, “We left the room, and two hotel staff, very calmly as though nothing was wrong, told us to go back into our rooms. But we saw the post on the group and went down.”
After reaching the lobby, they both threw up, and Ali passed out. They were referred to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Aleyamma Joseph, the medical officer in-charge at the emergency, said that “nine patients came in, of which three are still admitted. One has injured his hands as he tried to break the glass window in his room in a bid to get out. Ali was unconscious and was choking. He has been put on an IV drip.”
Police said some others also complained of breathlessness but were not hospitalised.
In a statement, the hotel said, “An investigation has been launched to get to the bottom of the incident to ensure we can take measures to avoid a similar situation in the future.”
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