Vettel's getaway was routine but he soon found Verstappen closing in on him on the inside, and the Ferrari driver moved across to cover the Red Bull, apparently unaware Raikkonen was on the other side of the No.33 vehicle and next to the pit wall.
Hamilton surged to the front - with Red Bull's Ricciardo also a beneficiary - and a timely reminder from his team to get the vehicle home in one piece was heeded, making last year's runner-up the heavy favourite for the title with six rounds to go, even after Marcus Ericsson's spin led to another outing from the safety auto.
When asked after the incident if he felt the race should have been started under the Safety Car, Vettel replied: "I don't know".
Some drivers had expressed concerns about visibility in the wet under floodlights, but the night race had hardly started when it lost three of the first four cars on the grid.
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That means there is still no place in the team for Diarmuid Connolly, who came off the bench late on against Tyrone. Since they have suffered well-publicised heartache in the finals, failing to win any of their last 10 appearances.
Hamilton avoided the trouble and progressed from fifth on the grid to first, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, as the cars race finally restarted after a safety auto.
"For sure, it's bitter but it's done", said the four times Singapore GP victor, whose retirement ended a run of 18 successive points finishes.
"I want to congratulate my team, they did a fantastic job", said Hamilton.
While the three leaders were out on the spot, Alonso tried to continue after the resulting safety vehicle, but his McLaren was too damaged and he had to retire.
Australian Ricciardo had been confident of victory, despite missing out on pole on Saturday but could not keep up with the Briton's pace on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen wiped out in first lap carnage
While Alonso was eventually forced to retire, this drive offered a reminder of why McLaren have been so desperate to keep him. Having started from fifth, on one of the toughest tracks in Formula One for overtaking, Hamilton could not believe his luck.
"Guys what can I say - what a turnaround today!"
"I'm a little bit disappointed to miss out on the win".
That summary was swiftly condemned by an incredulous Horner with the Red Bull chief responding: "How on earth you can work that out [Verstappen to blame] from watching that, I have no idea".
This is the first abandonment of the season for the German.
Esteban Ocon rounded out the points paying positions in tenth place for Force India after being locked in an ongoing battle with the two Haas drivers and Felipe Massa.
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It turns out that mice who got patched with either of the two drugs had a 20 percent reduction in fat on the side with the patch. Even better and more importantly, the patch could serve as a future treatment for metabolic conditions or diabetes .
Having built on that advantage, championship leader Hamilton was frustrated by the reappearance of the safety vehicle on lap 11 when Daniil Kvyat drove into the barriers. Only 12 of the 20 cars finished.