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Visitors Shatter Expo Records

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More than 723,900 people passed through the turnstiles at the Expo 2010 Shanghai as of 6:00 PM Sunday, rubbishing an earlier estimate that the maximum daily capacity of the extravagant fair is about 600,000.

A staggering 1.03 million people had visited the Expo Garden on Saturday.

The total attendance at the six-month fair, which draws to a close on Oct 31, was pushed to 65.34 million, breaking the record held by the 1970 Osaka World Expo in Japan, which attracted about 64 million people.

The fair also set a new record for the maximum attendance on a single day on Saturday, shattering Osaka Expo's record of 836,000 visitors.

Despite the huge attendance, no major glitches were reported at the Expo Garden on Sunday. However, the huge crowds and serpentine lines outside the pavilions, eateries and toilets did test the patience of the visitors.

"It was a bad decision to visit the Expo at the fag end of the six-month period," said Zhou Zhen, a Beijinger who flew to Shanghai for two days for the Expo.

The huge attendance also tested the city's transportation system.

Zhang Hao, a local visitor, said: "I have never seen so many people line up for the subway. I was literally pushed into the carriage by people behind me. It's horrible."

"Compared to Saturday, Sunday was still a little better, mostly because we were expecting a big crowd and had made preparations accordingly," France Pavilion director Franck Serrano told China Daily.

Extra police and soldiers were dispatched to the venue, which was jammed with traffic, to ensure smooth operation, he added.

The organizers have taken a series of measures to deal with the situation as they had foreseen the huge attendance in the last month of the 184-day fair.

A plan was drafted at the end of September to prepare for huge crowds, including increasing public transportation, entrances and exits, facilities, services for visitors, and adding drink and food supplies.

More security personnel were assigned to speed up the entry-exit process. Many other resources were put into use, including 20 extra buses, 6,000 meters of fencing, and a number of temporary toilets. More ferry and bus trips have also been arranged.

Organizers also strengthened examination and maintenance of fences outside pavilions, water dispensers and benches in rest areas.

Huang Jianzhi, deputy bureau chief of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination, said that the fair accommodation capability has greatly improved due to continuous efforts to provide better services.

"We won't set limits to the number of visitors for the remainder of the days, except for the last week when the daily number of visitors will be limited to 400,000 to 500,000," Huang said.

(China Daily October 18, 2010)

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