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Crowds can't resist lighters

ANOTHER daily Expo ritual involves people scrambling to grab lighters being distributed for free every night at the exit by Yaohua Road.

The Expo organizer said guards were doing their best to keep order but warned that the mad scramble was dangerous because of all the pushing and shoving. A security guard also said there was the risk of an explosion as some people were testing lighters and throwing the ones they didn't like back into a box.

About 8pm daily, Expo staffers hand out all the lighters that security guards confiscated from visitors at site entrances during the day.

Staffers put a plastic box of lighters on the ground at the exit so that people on their way out can take one.

Workers said it's an interesting sight to watch a bunch of people, who look extremely tired after trekking around the Expo all day, suddenly get a burst of energy in order to grab a free used lighter.

People often try to take as many lighters as possible. And there appears to be no age limit as seniors, young people and even children have all been spotted rushing like there's no tomorrow to get a lighter before they are gone.

After the frenzy ends, many broken lighters can be seen scattered on the ground.

A security guard leader surnamed Lin said he was worried that there will be an explosion because some people test the lighters before throwing them back into the box.

Lin said they initially put the box of lighters on a table at the exit and asked each visitor to pick up only one. That didn't work. The guard was pushed out of the way and the table was knocked over as people became overexcited by the prospect of getting a free lighter.

Xu Zuhua, deputy director of the Expo's Visitors Service Center, said the unruly behavior was hard to avoid. Whenever something is given away for free, people seem to go crazy. He cited other examples like the Expo guide maps and fans.

Lin said they will try to think of new ways to hand out the lighters, but added that people should also improve their manners.


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