February 2, 2011 by staff 

CCTV 4, Chinese New Year festivities in the capital in 2009 were more spectacular than anyone could imagine. When China Central Television (CCTV) employees staged a festival of fireworks near their new headquarters building, they started a fire that destroyed the new building of the “Television Cultural Center tower that was part of architecture’s most audacious development of Beijing.

The smoke rose into the sky and a fireman died trying to fight against the fire, which cost the state media estimated conservatively at more than 160 million yuan (Dh89.1m) and other observers, was more 4 billion yuan.

Two years after the fire, with development still closed by signs, and with China now approaching another round of New Year festivities, it remains a highly visible and embarrassing reminder of the dangers of fireworks in a country where Explosives are steeped in tradition. Many people believe they ward off evil spirits.

The tour avant-garde, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, was only three months away from opening when it was emptied. He was hosting an upscale hotel, a public theater and recording studios.

CCTV switch from a slightly shabby tower block at the other end of the city in its new headquarters, an impressive building of two towers connected at the top, has been delayed because of the fire in the center of TV cultural proximity, coverage of which has been severely restricted state media.

Authorities found 71 people to blame for the incident, from men who trucked in the fireworks to officials of a company that supplied building materials standards, and prison sentences of up to seven were returned.

Repair work began on the tower, with Mr. Koolhaas had said it remained structurally sound despite being emptied.

Fire safety is high on the agenda after 58 died in a fire tower block in Shanghai in November, so when people see in the Year of the Rabbit tomorrow evening, the authorities hope to avoid a repetition of fiasco of 2009 and reduce the number of dead that the fireworks last year reached 35 in the early days of Chinese New Year.

In recent months there have been several deaths of fireworks. An explosion at a fireworks factory in Henan province killed 10 people and wounded 21, while a dozen people were killed in November during two incidents in most manufacturers. Worse still, an explosion at a fireworks manufacturer in Heilongjiang Province in August killed 33 people.

These deaths occurred despite the closure of small shops, which were known to have safety standards below normal. Already, the number of producers of fireworks has fallen by more than 10,000 in 2005-5000, and authorities hope to reduce the total other.

However, public enthusiasm has huge fireworks – more than 900,000 cans are sold in the capital alone, according to local media – is to ensure their safe use difficult. In Beijing, authorities have banned their use in central areas of more than a decade, until the pressure has forced them to lift the ban five years ago.

About 7,000 firefighters are on duty in the capital tomorrow, when people see the New Year at the beginning of the celebrations will continue for more than two weeks.

“All firefighters have uniforms and on high alert,” Luo Yuan, a spokesman for the Beijing Public Security Bureau municipal protection against fire, told state media.

There have been calls for people not to let off firecrackers in Beijing, especially as, after three months without rain in the city and its surroundings are at particularly high risk of fire.

On Sunday, the authorities said fireworks and firecrackers are banned in parts of the business district of central Beijing.

According Waihung Yik, a fire safety specialist and professor in the department of engineering construction services to the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, it is difficult to control the way fireworks are used.

Airbus A330 charter plane (L) at an airport in Beijing, capital of China. The chartered plane, which can carry 265 passengers, took off at 11:30 on Monday to evacuate Chinese citizens stranded in Cairo. Some 500 Chinese citizens were stranded at the airport of Cairo. (Xinhua Ruzhuang Ma /)

A chartered Air China plane will leave Beijing for Cairo, capital of Egypt, to bring Chinese tourists stranded in an airport, the China Central Television Station (CCTV) News reported.

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