As the sun rose yesterday in Beijing, throngs of residents flocked to the headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV) hoping to catch sight of the its neighbor that had been consumed by flames the night before. The blaze, ignited by a firework set off on the final night of the lunar new year, destroyed the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel and a theater. Investigators have placed the blame on CCTV, whose employees defied the police by staging their illegal pyrotechnics too close to the unfinished complex. In a statement posted on its website, the network apologized for the incident, saying it was deeply grieved “for the severe damage the fire caused to the country’s property.”
But residents of the city who came to see the smoking shell of the construction project had a harder time day finding images of the fire on the Internet in China, on television or in the city’s newspapers, reported The NY Times. The national embarrassment left no pictures on the front page of The Beijing News. On Tuesday morning, the home page of Xinhua, the official news agency, featured a photo from a stampede in South Korea. Throughout the day, CCTV’s brief bulletins about the blaze omitted footage of the burning tower. By evening, the newscast skipped the story entirely.