For the last hour-and-a-half, as Chinese Lantern Festival fireworks mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, Twitter has been alive with chatter about a fire at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Beijing, which upon opening this year would have been one of the city’s most exclusive and luxurious hotels.
Located directly behind the newly built CCTV headquarters, and affectionately called dakucha or the “big pants”, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (the “boot” to the CCTV’s “pants”) is burning as I type this.
Already, photos have flooded TwitPic, a Twitter-based photo-sharing service, by Beijing residents out enjoying the holiday. Here’s a video from YouTube:
The incident, though much less tragic in that there’s been no reported loss of life yet, is reminiscent of the attacks in Mumbai late last year. Then, too, it was the citizen journalism of Twitter members who broke the story in real-time, much faster and much closer to the events than any of the major news stations.
Rumors are already circling that the fire may lead to the reintroduction of a fireworks ban in the capital, which was lifted in 2006 after 12 years.
Here are the most recent tweets about the fire. For more, check out the #cctvfire Twitter hash