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CCTV apologizes for hotel blaze, firefighter officer dies

CHINA Central Television (CCTV) today apologized for last evening's massive fire that engulfed part of its new headquarters in the eastern central business district of the capital. CCTV has been responsible for the fire, Beijing's fire control authorities said today.

In a statement on its Website, the broadcaster said it "feels sorrowful for the great loss that the fire inflicted on national assets. CCTV sincerely apologizes for the traffic congestion and inconvenience that affect residents nearby."

One firefighter officer was killed tackling the blaze and six other people were injured.

Zhang Jianyong, deputy chief of a fire station in Beijing's Hongmiao, entered the building with four firefighters to investigate the situation but lost contact with headquarters shortly after.

Zhang, five other firefighters and one other person were trapped in the 44-story Mandarin Oriental hotel. They were rescued about 11:30pm and sent immediately to a nearby hospital.

Zhang, 30, died at 3am due to smoke inhalation, the report said, citing Luo Yuan, spokesman and deputy chief of Beijing Fire Control Bureau.

CCTV hired staff from a fireworks company to ignite several hundred large festive firecrackers in an open space outside the nearly-completed Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is part of the iconic CCTV tower complex, said Luo.

The people who ignited the fireworks are being questioned by police, he said at a press conference late this morning without giving details.

Four camcorders recorded the fireworks display and the entire ignition process, Luo said.

Fire broke out on the 30th floor of the 44-story building at 8:27pm yesterday and was put out at 2am today.


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