Shocking footage shows the entire top floor of the budget Arapit Palace hotel being ravaged by a harrowing blaze at about 4.30am local time (11pm Monday GMT).
But worse still it has since been revealed the emergency exit was shut. People had to be rescued out of windows instead.
Many of the victims were sleeping when the fire — believed to have been caused by a short circuit — broke out and died of suffocation.
Government tourism minister Joseph Kannanthanam Alphons said: “When I headed to the emergency exit, I found that it had been locked. Also, it was too narrow.
“Obviously, even if people came to the emergency exit, they could not have escaped as it was too narrow and it was locked anyway.”
A hotel guest said rescue efforts were delayed because fire engine ladders couldn't reach his floor.
Some of the dead tried to jump from the fourth floor as the inferno engulfed the building.
FIRE SAFETY CONCERNS
The five-story hotel, which had been packed with wedding guests, had a makeshift sixth floor built on top of the roof out of fibreglass.
Delhi Minister Satyendra Jain said strict action will be taken against anyone found guilty of criminal negligence and an inquiry has been launched.
He said: "Carelessness on the part of authorities is evident.
"We are going to investigate, and the wrongdoer will be punished."
We are going to investigate, and the wrongdoer will be punished
Hotel guest Sivanand Chand, 43, said he was jolted awake around 4 am, struggling to breathe.
Mr Chand said: "When I got out of my room, I could hear 'help, help!' from adjoining rooms."
The hallway was dark and thick with smoke, so he turned back into his room and opened a window. He saw flames rising fast.
He said: "In 15 minutes, the whole room was black."
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Sunil Choudhary told local news service ANI: "The fire has been doused.
"We have to look for bodies, if any, inside the hotel.
"Those injured have been sent to hospital.
"Two hotel staff members had jumped from the fourth floor of the hotel in an attempt to save themselves.
"The status of the staff who jumped is yet to be known."
It is believed that the entire 35-room hotel had been booked out by one family for a wedding, according to local news source Garg.
At least 22 fire crews battled for four hours to douse the flames while 35 people were rescued.
The fire raises fresh questions about the safety standards in less affluent areas of the Indian capital – which is home to more than 18million people.
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