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Fire occurs in Mao Zedong's former residence
Updated: 2004-07-04 16:25

Former residence of late Chairman Mao Zedong caught fire Sunday noon in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province.

Thick smoke still can be seen from a building of the compound, known as Meiling near Donghu Lake, at 13:30 pm.

Meiling had been the most important residence for Chairman Mao in his later years of life except Zhongnanhai, the compound of the Chinese government in Beijing.

About a dozen of fire engines are fighting the fire and the construction above the second floor have almost been destroyed, according to eyewitness. No casualties have been reported yet.

A team of construction workers were said to be working there to refurbish the interior of a meeting room.

Meiling compound started its construction in 1960 with three buildings. The No 1 building was the one on fire.

The compound was delicately built and dotted with various plants treasured by Chairman Mao, including bamboo, pines and Chinese plum.

Chairman Mao frequently stayed in the residence for one month to half a year each year in his late period of life.

At Meiling compound, he had dealt with various domestic or international diplomatic affairs and met with celebrities from home and abroad.

Chairman Mao once wrote in a letter in the 1960s, describing Meiling as a place with "white clouds and yellow cranes", a Chinese poetic way to depict an undisturbed sanctuary

Meiling compound was opened to the public in 1993 to receive tourists who want to get glimpses of Chairman Mao's daily life in his later years.

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