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Police officers stand guard during a fire at Kandawgyi Palace hotel in Yangon, Myanmar October 19, 2017 . REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

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YANGON (Reuters) - One person was killed on Thursday in a massive fire that destroyed one of Yangon's best-known hotels, sending dark smoke billowing over the centre of Myanmar's largest city and triggering an hours-long battle to put out the flames.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which broke out around 3:20 a.m. at the teak-and-stone Kandawgyi Palace Hotel overlooking a picturesque inner-city lake, authorities told Reuters.

An unidentified body was found in a guest room and two people were injured, said Htay Lwin, a spokesman of hotel owner Htoo Group.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the fire and the cost of the damage was not immediately clear, he added.

The fire had been mostly extinguished by 7 a.m., and more than 140 guests were shifted to nearby hotels.

Htoo Group is chaired by business tycoon Tay Za, who, until last year, was on the list of United States sanctions for his close links to Myanmar's former military regime.

Myanmar's civilian-led government, helmed by Nobel laureate and former dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, is grappling with the aftermath of a harsh military crackdown that has driven out more than 500,000 of the country's Rohingya Muslim minority.

(Reporting by Wa Lone, Thu Thu Aung, Antoni Slodkowski and Yimou Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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