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City draws up plans for solar eclipse

SHANGHAI government is to draw up a plan to prevent road accidents and traffic disruption during the solar eclipse from 8:23am to 11:01am on July 22.

The city will be plunged into darkness for a brief period, the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory said yesterday. Scientists say traffic should come to a halt during the eclipse, which will last over five minutes, saying it will ensure traffic safety and give more people the opportunity to witness the rare event.

A traffic plan has been submitted to the city government which would involve police, traffic, communication and power supply departments, the observatory said.

"When Germany witnessed the total solar eclipse in 1999, they suffered severe traffic congestion in their expressway network. Shanghai might experience similar things," said Tang Haiming, an observatory official.

The eclipse will start during morning rush hour, Tang said. There will be complete darkness about 9:35am which will last for 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

"Although the sky will darken gradually over about an hour, full darkness will occur in as short as two seconds. It will be like night with all lights off," Tang said.

Drivers may experience problems with the sudden fall of darkness, and some will slow or stop to see the eclipse, both of which could lead to accidents or congestion, he said.

Tang said that if the government arranged for all vehicles to stop and pull over no one would miss the spectacle.

The observatory is also advising the city government to turn on street lamps, and to remind drivers to turn on their headlights before the full eclipse.

Shanghai's last total solar eclipse was in 1575 and the next is not due for 300 years.

Scientists say you can enjoy the total eclipse with the naked eye, but watching the partial eclipse, even with sunglasses, could damage your eyes.


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