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February 11, 2010

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Ex-head of CCTV is demoted over '09 fire

CHINA Central Television's former president Zhao Huayong was demoted and given a serious warning from the Communist Party of China over last year's February 9 fire at a luxury hotel neighboring CCTV's unoccupied landmark headquarters in central Beijing, the state television reported last night.

Former CCTV Vice President Li Xiaoming had both his administrative and party positions removed over the fire involving a firefighter's death and a total loss of more than 160 million yuan (US$23 million), the report said, citing the State Council, or the Cabinet.

In addition, 44 people, including CCTV's former deputy general engineer Xu Wei, have been referred to judicial departments for criminal charges while another 27 people were disciplined, according to the press release.

Repairs are to start this year on the new headquarters damaged in the blaze.

The building will be repaired instead of being rebuilt because an investigation by the Cabinet concluded the major structure was intact and safe.

The fire engulfed an adjacent 159-meter, 44-story building that was to house a luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, which was only weeks away from opening.

An unauthorized fireworks display started the blaze. More than 20 people are due to stand trial over the incident, including staff from CCTV.

The prosecutors office in Chaoyang District said it has completed its investigation and will soon file charges against those arrested.

The suspects include employees from CCTV, the fireworks company, and the building's designer, builder, supervisor and suppliers.


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