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Five more detained over fire in Beijing

ANOTHER five people have been detained in relation to the massive February 9 fire at the new headquarters complex of China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing, local police said yesterday.

They were investigated for illegally transporting a large amount of banned fireworks into Beijing, a spokesman with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said. Fireworks were blamed for causing the fire.

Among the five suspects were drivers, guides to help bypass highway police checkpoints and middlemen to find a company to set off the fireworks, the spokesman said.

The fire engulfed a 30-story building that was to house the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel, one of the buildings in the new complex of the state television network.

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

CCTV hired a company to ignite several hundred grade-A fireworks outside the hotel that night for the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, which marks the end of Lunar New Year celebrations.

Fireworks were allowed in downtown Beijing until midnight during the Spring Festival but powerful grade-A fireworks must not be ignited without police approval.

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

On February 11 Beijing police detained 12 suspects in connection with the blaze. Among them, four were CCTV staff, including its deputy chief engineer, Xu Wei, and the other eight people were from a Hunan Province fireworks company CCTV hired to set off the explosives. They were accused of "causing an accident with dangerous articles."


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