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Keen crowds defy rain

FREQUENT showers failed to deter visitors to the Expo site yesterday but umbrellas and flip-flops sold like hot cakes.

More than 450,000 visitors braved the rain to enter the site in numbers similar to sunny days as many people sought to use before they expired the Expo gift pack June tickets distributed by Shanghai government.

Visitors had to walk on tiptoe through pools of water formed at the No. 2 Gate at Xizang Road S. because of a torrential shower at around 9am. Other small pools also formed on roads throughout the site.

Xi Qunfeng, director of the Construction Department of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, said the water would drain quickly through the sandy ground.

Visitors are able to receive updated information about the weather by mobile phone messages, site broadcasts and on public screens on site, said Zhang Qing, deputy director of Expo Operation Headquarters.

Site broadcasts yesterday cautioned visitors not to stay on pavilion rooftops during thunderstorms and to keep their distance from tall, tower-shaped buildings, such as the landmarks of various public squares. They also asked visitors to avoid using benches during sudden thunderstorms.

An Expo Licensed Products Office, official said it had asked manufacturers to start making raincoats. He said the office had initially thought such items would not be popular, but now found many visitors wearing disposable raincoats they brought from home.

Flip-flops became the most popular products as many visitors' shoes became soaked after the shower. Some visitors to the Oil Pavilion in the Puxi Expo site carried their wet shoes and walked barefoot in the pavilion.

A souvenir store on Expo Boulevard sold more than 100 pairs of flip-flops before noon yesterday, 25 percent more than sunny days.

The flip-flops were always popular, even in sunny days and especially with ladies wearing high-heel shoes, said store director Zhang Wenqing.

Umbrella sales increased slightly as most local visitors prepared for the weather by bringing one from home, said Gao Wenmao, assistant manager of the flagship souvenir store in Pudong Expo site.

Umbrellas were popular among those who came from outside Shanghai, he added.


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