A stuntman was killed and six others injured in an accidental fire during the filming of John Woo's $75m war epic Red Cliff on Monday (June 9).

Red Cliff film crew confirmed the accident and casualty later that day. The fire took place in Xiaotangshan of Changping district in Northwest Beijing, according to a statement released by the filming crew.

In early morning of June 9, the film's second unit was shooting a classic 'fire boat battle' of the Battle of Red Cliff, when a smaller ancient war ship clashed into a bigger ship and set the big ship on fire.

When the shooting of the scene was completed, and the crew began to put out the fire, the wind made the fire grow drastically and it quickly got out of control, according to the statement. Hundreds of stuntmen and extras jumped off the boat to escape the fire. But a 23-year-old stuntman was found dead at the bottom of the boat. Six other stuntmen were hospitalised for burns and bone fracture.

The accident halted the shooting of second unit. John Woo, who was in Hong Kong at the time of the accident, immediately returned to Beijing.

While in Beijing last week promoting the film, Woo had told local media that the clashing of boats is just one of hundreds of stunt shots to be completed for the second film of Red Cliff.

The principal shooting of Red Cliff wrappedon Nov 30, 2007, but according to Woo last week it would take another six weeks to finish all the stunt shots in order to portray the grand battle scenes on the water.

The Red Cliff set has suffered other accidents, before this tragedy, during its epic shoot which started in May 2007. On one occasion, a flying camera crashed into a field when the crew was shooting the beginning scenes of the movie. Later, some of the prop boats sank because of a flood.

Two months after shooting started, the crew had to dismantle a costly set at the Beijing Film Studio and move to the city's CCTV studios in order to let Chen Kaige and his crew use the studios for hisbiopic Mei Lanfang.

Produced by John Woo's Lion Rock and financed by China Film Group, Taiwan's CMC Entertainment, Japan's Avex and Korea's Showbox, Red Cliff will be split into two films in Asian territories.

The first film will be released on July 10 in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, and October in Japan. Outside Asia, the film will be released in December as a single movie, with the second movie for Asian markets released around the same time.