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12 arrested over CCTV deadly fireworks fire

POLICE have arrested 12 people said to have been involved in causing a fire at China Central Television's new building in Beijing in February.

The Beijing Municipal Procuratorate decided to arrest the 12 on March 17, an official said.

They were detained, but not formally arrested, on February 11, accused of "causing an accident with dangerous articles." The arrest means they will now face trial, the official said yesterday.

The 12 include Xu Wei, the former head of CCTV's construction office, three employees of the construction team and eight employees of the Hunan Sanxiang Fireworks Company.

One of the three CCTV employees is Sha Peng, who is also board chairman of the Supernova Media Development Company, which acted as the intermediary company between CCTV and Sanxiang, the official said.

Xu Wei was detained by police just after the fire. The firework company employees fled to neighboring Hebei Province but were found and taken to Beijing, police said.

The accused face up to seven years in jail if found guilty.

A further five people were detained on February 15 for illegally transporting a large amount of banned fireworks into Beijing. They are still under investigation.

The fire on the night of February 9 involved a 30-story building which housed the nearly completed Mandarin Oriental Hotel, part of the new headquarters of the state television network in Beijing's Central Business District.

A fireman died and seven people, including six firemen and a construction worker, were injured in the blaze.

CCTV had hired a company to ignite fireworks outside the hotel that night for the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival.

The Beijing Fire Control Bureau said CCTV had failed to get a police permit and had ignored warnings from officers to cancel the show.


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