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Repairs start on fire-ravaged CCTV HQ

REPAIRS will start this year on the landmark new headquarters for state broadcaster China Central Television, part of which burnt in a blaze that killed one fireman last year.

Workers are dismantling the steel structure and interior and outer decoration in preparation for the repairs, today's The Beijing News reported.

The building is to be repaired instead of torn down and rebuilt because investigation by the State Council concluded the major structure was intact and safe, the newspaper quoted Zhao Zixin, director of Beijing Fire Control Bureau, as saying.

After repairs, the building will retain the original look, according to Beijing Urban Construction Group. It will accommodate a five-star hotel, a 1,500-seat theatre and other support facilities as designed.

The futuristic-looking 5-billion-yuan (US$735 million) CCTV complex features a pair of enormous, leaning buildings of black glass and steel.

The fire in February 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 unlicensed fireworks display arranged by CCTV to mark the end of the Lunar New Year started the blaze.

More than 20 people have been arrested over the accident, including staff from CCTV, the fireworks company, the building's designer, builder, supervisor and suppliers.

They will be tried in two groups, with the first batch due to go to trial before mid February and the rest around March, according to earlier reports.


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