CCTV apologizes for fire

One firefighter was killed in blaze

BEIJING — China’s state broadcaster CCTV has apologized for a fire that started after sparks from a staff fireworks display ignited a blaze that killed a firefighter and gutted an unfinished building that was to be used as a broadcast center and hotel.

The 40-story, 5 billion yuan ($731 million) building, called TVCC, was part of the complex designed by the avant-garde Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas as CCTV’s headquarters. It also housed the Mandarin Oriental, due to open this year.

A permit was required for the firework display, but it had not been obtained.

The fire was curiously absent from CCTV’s news coverage, though many other international news agencies ran footage of the burning building. The broadcaster’s apology appeared on its website Tuesday.

The quirky, iconic CCTV building was itself untouched by the blaze.

The fire broke out in the final hours of the Lantern Festival on Monday as the city rang with the sound of firecrackers and fireworks lit the sky. The festival ends the Chinese lunar new year holiday.

The fire was read by many as a bad omen at the start of the year of the ox, with some webizens speculating that maybe the feng shui in the building was bad.

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