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Fire authority says fireworks caused deadly hotel blaze

THE blaze that caused one death and six injuries at a hotel near the new China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing last night was caused by fireworks, the city's fire control authorities said this morning.

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 Yuan, spokesman and deputy chief of Beijing Fire Control Bureau.

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.

He said these fireworks were much more powerful and explosive than what was available at roadside stalls during the Spring Festival and therefore needed approval from the municipal government before being allowed in the downtown areas.

"Owners of the property ignored policemen's warnings that such fireworks were not allowed," Luo said. He said investigation is continuing.

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

A 30-year-old fireman died from respiratory tract injuries at hospital early today. Beijing Fire Control Bureau said seven others were injured, including six firemen and one construction worker.


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