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Day of rain fails to spoil city's party

STEADY rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of visitors to the Shanghai World Expo yesterday, the first day of the Dragon Boat Festival break.

Statistics updated at 9 o'clock last night showed 503,200 visitors entered the Expo Park, far eclipsing the 417,300 on Sunday.

Each day of the three-day holiday will be crowded as diverse crowds descend upon the site of the global showcase.

Travelers from all over China, students who have just finished National College Entrance Examinations and the first batch of Shanghai residents with free Expo gift packs from the municipal government will be among them.

Add to them a goodly offering of overseas visitors and you have a multicultural throng.

Beginning on Sunday, mobile TV screens in the Expo Park, on Metro lines and on Expo buses have advised people to arrange visiting schedules wisely to avoid peak times.

Still, huge crowds packed Metro lines and park entrances yesterday.

Metro line operator Shanghai Shentong has added extra workers and on-site supervisors at some busy stations and 300 more volunteers are being used.

The Yaohua Road Metro Station at the park's No. 5 Gate was a hive of activity at 7am yesterday. "I expected to see large crowds, but not so many," said Wang Qin from Taizhou, in Jiangsu Province, neighboring Shanghai.

Long queues were the norm at most pavilions. The Belgium-EU Pavilion received more than 30,000 yesterday - 5,000 more than average.

"We know the number because each visitor to our pavilion receives a biscuit at the entrance," pavilion worker Wang Qiaoli said yesterday. "We prepare about 80 large boxes, with 300 biscuits in each box, every day. By morning's end we had given out about 45 boxes."

More than 43,000 visited the Turkey Pavilion yesterday compared with 35,000 to 40,000 on normal days.

The queues are lining up around the Spain Pavilion and the waiting time to get in was more than 4 1/2 hours in the afternoon.

"We've added three extra rows for people queuing but they don't seem enough," said Ding Weiyong, an official at the Spain Pavilion. "I advise visitors to come after 7pm."

Cable cars in the Switzerland Pavilion were not in use yesterday afternoon due to the rain but visitors still queued for about three hours for entry.

"The pavilion just about reaches maximum capacity every day," said Ken Wu, chief guide of the Swiss pavilion.

"Our engineers are servicing the cable cars now and this won't happen again."

Bashi Xinxin, one of the city's largest bus companies that operates the in-park Expo Avenue Line, yesterday added three vehicles and increased the regularity of services.

Zhou Yuehua, 40, from Pinghu, in neighboring Zhejiang Province, was gawking at the long queues when taking shelter from the rain at the information station in front of the Germany Pavilion yesterday.

"Too many people... I almost give up," he said. "I plan to come here earlier tomorrow and try my luck."


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