- Published on Saturday, 11 January 2014 15:29
A 10-hour inferno has razed an ancient Tibetan town in China's southwest Yunnan province that's popular with tourists.There is no immediate report of casualties, and the cause of the fire is unclear.
The Deqen prefecture government said the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning in the town of Dukezong in the tourist area of Shangri-la.
More than 2000 firefighters, soldiers, police, local officials and volunteers responded to the blaze and brought it under control some 10 hours after it broke out, the Shangri-La county government said.
The official Xinhua News Agency says more than 100 houses were destroyed.Photos and video footage show the town engulfed in flames that turned the night sky red.
The Dukezong means "the town of moon" in Tibetan.
The town dates back 1300 years ago, when it was an important stop on the South Silk Road, according to Xinhua.
It is now one of the most renowned resorts in Shangri-la, known for its well-preserved ancient streets, Tibetan dwellings and traditional culture.
The state-run China Central Television says most structures in Dukezong are made of wood and the fire spread easily because of dry weather.
Formerly Zhongdian, the county officially changed its name to Shangri-la in 2001, and claims to be the inspiration behind the fictional place of Shangri-La in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon - though several other locations across the region also claim to be the "real" Shangri-la.
The book was turned into a movie, also called Lost Horizon, in 1937.Since changing its name, the county has benefited from tourism revenue.