Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Fatal fire destroys Beijing hotel


Fire takes hold of the building in Beijing

Investigators have blamed China's state TV for a huge fire that destroyed a hotel in Beijing, saying fire-crackers it illegally set off caused the blaze.

A firefighter died after inhaling toxic fumes and six people were injured in the fire at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that raged for more than five hours.

China Central Television (CCTV) staged the fireworks display nearby to mark the end of Lunar New Year celebrations.

The hotel, which is under construction, was empty when the fire broke out.

The 44-storey building is located just a few hundred metres from CCTV's iconic headquarters - designed as part of the city's Olympic makeover.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel destroyed by fire
The flagship Mandarin Oriental Hotel was nearly completed
The complex cost 5bn yuan ($731m; 495m), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The authorities said the broadcaster had gone against police warnings and set off fireworks in the complex that were far more powerful than those allowed for public use.

Police are questioning those in charge of the display, Xinhua quoted Beijing fire spokesman Luo Yuan as saying.

The blaze, which was filmed by CCTV, drew onlookers from across China's capital, as clouds of sparks and smoke spurted from the tower.

Fireworks were set off across Beijing on Monday night to celebrate the first full moon since the Lunar New Year.

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