Hotel in CCTV complex burns

Fireworks display may have started blaze

BEIJING -- The new headquarters of China Central Television appeared unscathed Monday night despite a new luxury hotel next door being engulfed in fire.

The fire, which began around 9 p.m. local time, might have been sparked by a large fireworks display inside or near the CCTV complex. At 9:09, flames could be seen cascading down the west side of the building. By 10 p.m., the entire building was consumed, and explosions could be seen coming from the roof.

The 40-story building, slated to open this year under the Mandarin Oriental brand, was still burning at 10:40 p.m., though Beijing firefighters could be seen spraying water on lower parts of the building.

Monday night's fireworks celebrated Yuan Xiao Jie, or Lantern Festival, the final night of the two-week-long Chinese New Year holiday. The display began around 8 p.m. and included some of the largest and most colorful explosions of this year's festivities.

The landmark CCTV building seemed to be undamaged by the fire and was not burning at any point during the night. Built at an estimated cost of US$750 million to US$1.2 billion, the national broadcaster's new headquarters moved it from a nondescript tower in Beijing's western suburbs to an architectural wonder in the heart of the capital's central business district.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths from the fire.

Both buildings were designed by Rotterdam, Netherlands, architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren for the firm OMA. Both were nearing the end of construction. Along with the Mandarin Oriental, the hotel building was to have housed a visitors center, a theater and exhibition spaces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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