Fireworks destroy ancient gate in China
BEIJING: Fireworks set off to mark the Lunar New Year started a blaze that destroyed a 1,600-year-old city gate in northern China.
No deaths or injuries were reported in Friday’s fire, which gutted the restored structure on the city wall of Zhengding, about 150 miles (250km) southwest of the capital Beijing, the China Daily newspaper reported Saturday.
Financial losses were estimated at 1mil yuan ($150,000), the paper said.
The gate was originally built in the fifth century and heavily restored in 2001 at a cost of 4mil yuan ($600,000), the paper said.
Zhengding, which sits in the southern part of Hebei province, is famed among Chinese tourists for its ancient houses and Buddhist temples.
The fire recalled the inferno that destroyed a nearly completed hotel adjacent to state broadcaster CCTV’s landmark new office building in downtown Beijing, leaving one firefighter dead.
The Feb 9, 2009 blaze was sparked by an illegal fireworks display ordered by a top executive, now among 44 people facing criminal prosecution.
Another 27 others have been given administrative punishments, and the broadcaster ordered to pay a 3mil yuan (US$450,000).
One year on, the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel remains a charred wreck and CCTV has yet to announce when it will move into its new Z-shaped headquarters - a project that helped transform the capital’s skyline for the 2008 Beijing Olympics