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Visitors brave wet day

MORE than 837,000 people visited the World Expo yesterday despite the wet weather, bringing total attendance to 69.71 million. Attendance will reach the organizer's estimate of 70 million this morning.

Many expected yesterday's attendance to break the daily record - 1.03 million people visited on October 16 - since it was the last Saturday that standard tickets holders were able to enter the site. Daily attendance has so far exceeded 600,000 people each day this week, much more than the fair's average of 400,000.

"I came here to witness the daily peak in visitors. I thought attendance would surpass 1 million again today and I wanted to be one out of the million," Liu Wen, a 19-year-old Jiangsu Province native who studies in Shanghai, told Shanghai Daily. "Two friends were supposed to join me in the afternoon, but they were scared away by the rain, like many others,"

Smooth operation

After October 16 when the attendance exceeded 1 million, both organizers and participants were better prepared to handle the crowd.

The traffic department boosted staff from the usual 200 to 300 to maintain order. The 230 tour buses were all stopped in order to provide more space for people to walk on the roads. Forty-six buses were added to the 200 shuttles and three container toilets were dispatched to the site. Each container toilet has a daily capacity of 20,000 people. Plus, 1,000 "retired" volunteers were called back to help out.

To cope with the rain, some pavilions were giving out raincoats while anti-slip mats were placed in many areas to protect visitors.

By 5am in the morning, nearly 3,000 people were already lining up outside Gate 8 to get reservation tickets for the China Pavilion.

"We kept postponing going to the Expo because we were scared by the large crowds, the daily 300,000 and 400,000 in summer, and we also hoped to see better performances near the end of the event," said Luo Renqiu, a 54-year-old visitor from Shandong Province.

"When we saw the news of last Saturday's attendance exceeding 1 million, we regretted not coming earlier. And this is the last weekend, so here we are."

Luo and her husband arrived in Shanghai on Friday evening, rested for a short while and then went straight to Gate 8 at 3am yesterday because "we really want to see the China Pavilion, but we were quite surprised to see hundreds of others who were already there."

The Oil Pavilion asked visitors to stop lining by 9:45am yesterday as the number of visitors waiting outside already reached the pavilion's daily maximum capacity. The USA Pavilion received more than 55,000 visitors yesterday, pushing its total attendance to 7 million.

The Lithuania Pavilion, usually requiring about 10 minutes to enter, had a line curving all the way around to the Russia Pavilion.

"It is quite amazing to see so many visitors on such a bad day," said Indre Kumpikeviciute, director of Lithuania Pavilion. "I have such high respect for all these enthusiastic visitors who came despite the weather."

Still, the wet weather was enough to convince many to stay home yesterday while many of those who did choose to visit the Expo left earlier than planned.


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