Beijing hotel fire kills two students; Hong Kong STA says dorms safer for youth travel

BEIJING/HONG KONG - Two Hong Kong students aged 12 and 17 who went to Beijing on a Mandarin language study tour died Saturday evening when a fire broke out at the four-star, 367-room Catic Plaza Hotel near the Asian Games Village. A third young girl from South Korea who did not belong to the study tour is now in serious condition, according to a China Daily report. Catic Plaza Hotel will soon cease operations, and all guests have been moved to other nearby hotels. The public security bureau said a fire started on the 10th floor of the hotel, in a room next to where the two girls were staying. The fire alarm did not go off; the power supply was not cut and there were no fire-exit signs according to guests who managed to evacuate. Andrew Tam, managing director for the recently opened STA Travel (HK) Ltd. says dorms are safer than hotels, for accommodating youths who usually make two- to three-week study tours to China during the summer months. “We usually use dormitories. They are safer than hotels. We want our own dormitory, because it is a secure place for watching people entering and leaving. This is hard to monitor at hotels. Also, we want to separate boys and girls, which is again difficult to do in hotels. We need additional facilities as well to show students movies or for hosting functions, and a boarding school environment is best.

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