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20 jailed for CCTV tower fire

[ 2010-05-11 11:36]     字号 [] [] []  
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Sentences range from three to seven years for carelessness with fireworks

Twenty people responsible for a deadly fire that gutted a brand new building of State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) last February were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to seven years on Monday.

Xu Wei, former director of the broadcaster's construction office, was sentenced to seven years in prison, while the remaining 19 offenders received three to six years behind bars.

The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court exempted one of the accused from criminal punishment because of his light offense, the verdict said.

The court said all 21 accused ignored relative laws and regulations on the management of explosives, and caused a severe accident by setting off fireworks at a major construction site without a permit.

The fire greatly placed people's safety and national property at risk. All the accused were convicted of causing an accident with dangerous articles and deserve to be punished, the verdict said.

A 27-year-old firefighter was killed and eight others were injured in the blaze. The economic loss incurred by the fire, one of the fiercest in the capital's recent history, was estimated at more than 160 million yuan ($23.44 million), according to official figures.

The court was convinced that Xu decided to organize the fireworks display on Feb 9, 2009 and asked his fellow employees to carry out the show.

From December 2008 to February 2009, Sha Peng, Liu Faguo, Li Xiaohua and Song Zheyuan bought the fireworks from a company in Central China's Hunan province.

In February 2009, Liu Faguo asked the company to transport the fireworks to an unlicensed storehouse in North China's Hebei province. Liu Guilan, the owner of the warehouse, allowed the fireworks to be stored at his property, well aware that it was against the law, the court found.

At about 8 pm on Feb 9, Wang Shirong, former deputy director of the CCTV construction office, initiated the display, which lasted about 15 minutes before the tower went up in flames.

Xu pleaded guilty during the trial in March, saying he was sorry for causing the big loss to the country and tarnishing the image of the state broadcaster.

In February this year, the State Council said that an investigation into the incident revealed the firefighting systems in the brand new CCTV tower were dysfunctional.

The television network and its contractors had failed to fix broken emergency sprinklers and did not carry out various other tasks that could have brought the fire under control, according to the State Council.

A total of 71 people have been found responsible for the fire, the central government said.

Among those who received administrative punishments are Zhao Huayong, former CCTV president, who was demoted, and Li Xiaoming, vice-president of CCTV, who was sacked.


1.)What was the economic loss of the fire?

2. How many people total have been found responsible for the fire?

3. What was the average jail sentence for those convicted?


1. 160 million yuan.

2. 71.

3. 3 to 7 years.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

20 jailed for CCTV tower fire

20 jailed for CCTV tower fire

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China daily for one year.