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Expertise in landslides

A SAUDI Arabian city at the Expo may hold a seminar to share its experiences in preventing damage from landslides with officials in northwestern China, where a mudslide killed 702 people with 1,042 still missing in Gansu Province.

The Tent City of Mina Pavilion, under Saudi Arabia Pavilion, features an exhibit on preventing damage from landslides in the Urban Best Practices Area.

"We offer a proven solution to protect high-risk, densely populated cities from landslides," said Long Chang, senior program manager with the Mina pavilion. "Hopefully, it can be spread through the Shanghai Expo and make more cities safer."

Long said they were waiting for final approval from the pavilion's top official before sharing their expertise with Chinese officials. The Saudi city developed the practice over 15 years.

First, they nail large unstable rocks to mountains with steel bars and then turn the mountain into terrace fields as a buffer area. Stone walls are then built in the buffer areas to stop the landslides.

A dam is also built to prevent flooding of nearby rivers. Conduits lead rushing water to a massive holding tank, where the water is purified and then used by residents in the tent city.

Hajj Pilgrimage

Mina, 5 kilometers east of Mecca, provides temporary accommodations for 3 million people during the annual Hajj Pilgrimage. A 4-square-kilometer stretch of land is covered with white tents.

Lying in the steep and rocky Mina Valley, the city was once constantly threatened by falling rocks and landslides. The rainy season also happens to coincide with the pilgrimage.

"The valley is usually dry," Long said. But it pours during the pilgrimage, when the population is the densest, causing landslides. For decades, planners have strived to make the city safer," Long said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Pavilion is operating normally despite the deadly floods that have recently ravaged the country. Abdul Wahid, deputy commissioner general of the Pakistan Pavilion, said most of its staff workers were recruited from south Pakistan, which has not been swamped by flooding.

The catastrophe has killed more than 1,600 people and left 2 million homeless. Wahid said he was touched when he had heard from Pakistani visitors that the Chinese government has provided great assistance to the flood rescue work in Pakistan.


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