[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Shangri La town destroyed by heater blaze

Woman arrested for allowing unattended heater to spark fire which burned down ancient Tibetan town, Chinese media says.

Last updated: 18 Jan 2014 07:32
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
More than 100 houses were destroyed in the fire [Reuters]

Chinese authorities have arrested a guesthouse owner whose heater allegedly sparked a fire that burned for nearly 10 hours and destroyed an ancient Tibetan town.

More than 2,000 firefighters, soldiers, police, local officials and volunteers responded to the early morning blaze on January 11, which destroyed 343 houses and many historic artifacts in Dukezong, Shangri La county's old neighbourhood.

Tang Ying, operator of the Ruyi Inn guesthouse, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly causing the fire. State news agency Xinhua said she forgot to turn off the heater, which later set fire to a curtain.

Local authorities have said a million-dollar fire prevention system failed to work. Witnesses said hydrants failed to pump water and that fire engines were kept outside the area's narrow alleys.

Once called Gyaitang Zong, the county surrounding Dukezong renamed itself Shangri La in 2001, hoping to draw tourists by referencing the mythical Himalayan land described in James Hilton's 1933 novel. 

In 2005, the county started to renovate its ancient Tibetan quarter of Dukezong, which dates back to more than 1,000 years and is known for its preserved cobbled streets, ancient structures and Tibetan culture. 

Tourism is virtually the only industry in Tibet.

187

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.