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Chinese broadcaster sorry for deadly hotel fire

  • Story Highlights
  • CCTV: Staffers overseeing new TV complex hired people to set off firecrackers
  • It added that this was done outside the building without prior approval
  • Blaze engulfed neighboring hotel during final hours of new year celebrations
  • Modern, angular building is a symbol of Beijing's modernization
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- A Chinese television station has apologized for Monday's massive fire at an unoccupied luxury hotel that killed a firefighter and wounded seven other people.

Elizabeth Koch watched the fire with her husband. "Suddenly he's like, 'Wait, this building is on fire!' "

Police suspect fireworks to be the cause of the blaze at the 40-story Mandarin Oriental.

Central China Television (CCTV) said in its apology that staffers who were overseeing the construction of a new television complex in central Beijing hired people to set off large firecrackers outside the building without prior approval.

The resulting fire engulfed the newly constructed 40-story Mandarin Oriental, located next door.

One firefighter died of smoke inhalation, Beijing officials said Tuesday. Six other firefighters and a construction worker were recuperating in hospitals. Photo See photos of the blaze »

The blaze erupted in the final hours of new year's celebrations as people set off fireworks across the city.

Fred Rice, a British national who lives in Beijing, said "the top of the building was exploding."

"We weren't sure if it was gas canisters or what. It was a spectacular sight for sure," he said.

"It was spreading incredibly fast," said another witness, Stephen Chaytor. "It went from small flames to being totally engulfed in flames." Video Watch flames devour the hotel »

Beijing residents were supposed to stop selling and lighting fireworks by midnight, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The modern, angular building was a sign of Beijing's recent transformation and modernization. It had been scheduled to open late last year, but the opening was postponed until this year, though most of the building had been constructed.


According to its Web site, the Mandarin Oriental-Beijing is the flagship property in China for the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain.

The tower stands more than 500 feet high and contains 241 rooms, Xinhua reported.

All About BeijingMandarin Oriental International Ltd.

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