Feb. 12 (UPI) -- At least 17 people died in a large hotel fire Tuesday in India, startling many sleeping guests and forcing them to flee as the flames grew, authorities said.
Fire officials are investigating the blaze that began at the Arpit Palace Hotel in New Delhi, the Times of India reported. Firefighters reached some victims who were badly injured. Authorities said 35 were rescued.
Authorities said an electrical short circuit may have started the fire, but added an investigation has just started to look into possible causes.
Most of the dead died from suffocation but some were killed when they tried to jump from windows, NDTV reported. A woman and child were seen attempting to jump while another man was spotted hanging from a terrace before falling.
About 120 people were inside the six-story hotel at the time of the fire.
Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons said the emergency exits at the hotel were problematic.
"We just took a look at the emergency exits. It's all illegal," Alphons said.. "These are very narrow, not according to specifications. And they were closed at night. According to information we have, those gates are closed at night and a guard sits outside. But we don't know if the guard was there or not."
Satyendar Jain, Delhi's urban development minister said that the hotel will be investigated for building code violations.
"There is a clear case of negligence here," Jain said, adding that some guests who tried to escape could not break windows in their rooms, essentially trapping them. "We have ordered for a magisterial inquiry into the case. Apparently, there were lapses (from the hotel administration's side) and action will be taken against those found guilty."