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Beijing Starts Passenger Security Checks in All Subway Stations

Beijing subway passengers were subjected to new security checks on Sunday at the start of a three-month campaign to ensure a safe Olympic Games and Paralympics.

More than 3,000 inspectors at 93 metro stations began searches for dangerous articles, including guns, ammunition, knives, explosives, flammable and radioactive materials, and toxic chemicals, said Jia Peng a spokesman for Beijing Subway Operation Company.

Passengers generally showed understanding, Jia said.

"It's inconvenient for me, but I know the checks are aimed at ensuring the safety of myself and other passengers," said a passenger surnamed Yang at the Andingmen station of the No.2 line.

At Chegongzhuang Station, passenger Wang Bo and his laptop were subjected to a security check. Inspectors checked him with scanner and asked him to set aside his keys, mobile phone and wallet.

"They are so careful," Wang said. "It's just as strict as the airport security checks."

At the Wangjingxi Station, inspectors seized two kilograms of gasoline at about 11 a.m. and a passenger is under investigation, but no further information was available.

Liquids would also be checked, unless the passenger takes a drink in front of inspectors, said the Legal Evening News newspaper.

Large items of luggage would be checked by a X-ray machines, while smaller bags would be randomly checked. More than 30 dogs were also to be used for random inspections, and another 30 were being trained, Jia said.

The Legal Evening News reported that the X-ray machine check took 15 seconds, a body scan 10 seconds, a liquids check four seconds and dog check five seconds.

A subway spokesman had earlier said the measures were taken to maintain public order and ensure a smooth Olympics from Aug. 8 to 24 and Paralympics from Sept. 6 to 17.

"Passengers who reject security checks or insist on carrying dangerous articles will be prohibited from entry or exit or even prosecuted," he said.

Under Chinese law, passengers are banned from carrying dangerous materials on public transport, including buses, subways, trains and aircraft. Offenders can be detained from five to 15 days.

Beijing has five subway lines in operation with 140 km of track, transporting millions of passengers every day. It plans to add three new subway lines this year to reach 200 km in length.

(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2008)

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