Indian capital's urban development minister Satyendar Jain says there was "a clear case of negligence" as building laws were poorly enforced in the crowded neighbourhood.

A fire brigade is seen outside a hotel where a fire broke out in New Delhi, India. February 12, 2019.
A fire brigade is seen outside a hotel where a fire broke out in New Delhi, India. February 12, 2019. (Reuters)

At least 17 people died in a fire early Tuesday at a hotel in India's capital New Delhi, police said.

The fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel has been extinguished, but authorities are still investigating what sparked it, Deputy Police Commissioner Mandeep Singh Randhawa said. 

"We have to check the stability of the structure, check every room," Randhawa said.

Another four others were injured in the blaze. The dead included a woman and a child who had tried to escape by jumping from a fifth-floor window of the 65-room hotel, some of which had been booked by a wedding party.

Authorities appeared to have been negligent in enforcing building laws in the surrounding area, Delhi's urban development minister Satyendar Jain said.

"There is a clear case of negligence here," he added.

The hotel is located in Karol Bagh, an area in New Dehli full of shops and budget hotels that is popular with tourists.

Twenty-five fire engines responded to the blaze, which had engulfed all but the ground floor of the five-storey hotel, fire officer Vijay Paul said.

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

Among those rescued was Sivanand Chand, 43, a hotel guest who was jolted awake around 4 am, struggling to breathe.

"When I got out of my room, I could hear 'help, help!' from adjoining rooms," Chand said. He added he opened the window and saw flames rising very fast.

"In 15 minutes, the whole room was black," he said.

The rescue took about 30 minutes because fire engine ladders could not initially reach Chand's floor, he said.

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

Source: AP