09
Feb
2009

CCTV Fire Photos – Twitter breaks the news again

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Photo source: Green67 Twitpic

Before CCTV, CNN, and others mainstream media roll into action, people on Twitter immediately started capturing news and information about a fire at the TVCC building within the CCTV complex and near the iconic Rem Koolhaas designed CCTV building in Beijing. More photos:

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Source: Leondellee Twitpic

More information has been collected on this Google Doc (started by niubi)

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More photos and links on the Google Doc.

Some photos on a Picasa album by Jason JS Wang.

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Some pictures and video (Youku) on Netease:

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Television Cultural Center: (TVCC)

Via 1rick on Twitter, here is more information about the Television Cultural Center. Apparently the nickname for this building is “The Termite’s Nest” (not the be confused with the Rem Koolhaas “Big Pants” or “Underpants” right next door).

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Photo source: TVCC

Twitter broke this story (in English)

Niubi first tweeted about the fire around 8:30 pm Beijing time.

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The news has been coming in non-stop via the hashtag #cctvfire (first suggested by BillGlover):

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Update: See the rhetoric the day after

Live Update From Yours Truly

Just after 21:50, I set out to the fire at the new CCTV complex after taking a look at pictures of the fire via the Web. I took it first with a great deal of salt, but soon I was proven wrong.

I live just outside Chaoyangmen, so for me it was just a matter of getting onto Chaoyangmen Outer Street by car. This avenue goes straight to Big Pants, as it’s known (although this time, Big Boots, the TV Culture Center, got hit), but right at the Dongdaqiao crossing with Chaoyang North Road, cops were out to force roadblocks. Buses were the only four-wheelers being allowed through.

(I took these photos while driving — so sorry about the poor quality.)

The presence of the cops was felt in many places. Chaoyangmen Outer Avenue was fully locked from east of the Dongdaqiao crossing. Meanwhile, I had to reroute via Chaoyang North Road. Even here, cops prevented people from turning right onto the side road of the eastern 3rd Ring Road and getting any bit close. Cars that turned right anyway got blocked and had to go back. People leaned on their horns like mad.

I next went on a relatively “silent” back street — Jintai West Street. Unfortunately, at the crossing with Chaoyang Road, where we neared the fire, things got sort of out of control.

Eventually, I made it through the crossing and caught sight of the flame. It was pretty scary.

The flame was clearly visible from this pic. On an iPhone pic, it doesn’t appear particularly “huge”, but when you take into account that just about all of the building was on fire, dimensions change very quickly.

Folks were gathering around — quite a number had camera phones and all took shots of this event in the making.

Even at places afield, the flame was still very much visible.

I could not attempt to describe the feelings as the fire continued to burn away. The Chinese “love” (so to speak) to huddle around any kind of a “show”, so to speak. If a car flips over, you can be sure there’s a crowd. Traffic queues emerge because some car bumped into a huge truck. It’s therefore no surprise that traffic nearly ground to a standstill as folks were stopping and snapping away.

I had a movable window on the ceiling, so I parked the car and snapped away photos like mad. Everyone out there was snapping, and we had folks with video cameras. Locals and expats alike looked on. Folks were phoning their friends with the news and their whereabouts. Many reports poured in that Beijing’s 3rd Ring Road was bolted.

I next drove out to Guanghua Road (where this building lies near the bridge with the ring road), as well as on Zhenzhi Road, which is sort of a widened road through the eastern bit of the CBD. At the crossing here, the flame was clearly visible (and so were the masses).

Outside the CCTV works site, the flame was equally visible. Especially here, it stank really badly.

At this point, I neared Guanghua Bridge, which is where Guanghua Road meets the side road of the eastern 3rd Ring Road. Here, the lights turned red and the cops were in action. No cars passed on the ring road overpass above except for cop cars.

Folks that looked like either fire brigades or security guards wearing helms enforced order and blocked the northbound side road.

Pretty soon, a sign — oh the formalism! — or in fact, two signs, were put up. They simply read: “TRAFFIC CONTROL — ALL CARS REROUTE”. No cars, except for rescue ops, were allowed into the side road.

I next drove underneath the bridge and got the car parked just next to the Line 10 stop at Jintai Xizhao. Here, the flame was clearly visible — and so were the police blockades.

Heading back, parts of Chaoyangmen Outer Street were still very much blockaded by at least two police cars. It didn’t feel like a riot or a mad dash away from the CCTV complex, but you couldn’t say it wasn’t tense.

The Vox Populi

In no particular order, and uncensored and virtually unretouched, here are some views from this pretty tense night that shows you what we in the Jing think about all this:

• Tonight’s the last night you can set those firecrackers off. Officially you’re supposed to be detained if you set them off after midnight, so let’s roll — and set the thing up as much as we can.

• What? Big Pants? No, wait, Big Boot. That’s a lot of money wasted.

• Not a lot of folks liked the new CCTV complex anyway. It’s a total waste of cash and looks just outright weird.

• “Help! Help! Those two buildings are coming together and are being built slanted!” (That was what locals complained when work on the nearby Big Pants got underway in late 2006.)

• I think next year we’ll see the rules changed — firecrackers won’t be allowed in the city center any more as of 2010.

Update: See the rhetoric the day after

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