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Fire At Hill Top Pagoda In Burma Kills 20 People - 2004-01-28


At least 20 people have been killed and more than a dozen others have been hurt in a fire near a popular Buddhist pagoda in eastern Burma.

Reports from various sources say the fire broke out early Tuesday in an area near the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, some 160-kilometers east of the capital, Rangoon. The exact cause of the blaze has not been determined, but state-run newspapers blame what they call "carelessness" on the part of shopkeepers at the pagoda complex.

The pagoda attracts both Buddhist pilgrims and tourists. It is not known whether any foreigners were killed or injured.

Dozens of shops and other buildings were damage or destroyed in the fire.

Kyaiktiyo, also called the Golden Rock Temple, sits on a boulder atop a cliff. Legend says the boulder maintains its balance because a strand of the Buddha's hair is preserved inside the temple.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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