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Beijing says torch can stay alight atop Everest

February 27, 2008

BEIJING, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Chinese scientists have expressed full
confidence that the Olympic relay torch can scale Mount Everest
without sputtering out, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

The torch relay, ahead of the Games which start in Beijing on Aug. 8,
will include a climb to the top of the world's highest mountain, which
spans Nepal and the Chinese region of Tibet.

China has upgraded path and road surfaces to make it easier on the
bearers of the Olympic flame.
Beijing scientists said they had finished tests to ensure the torch
can stay alight in the tough, oxygen-sparse conditions that leave even
experienced climbers struggling.

"We are fully confident that the Olympic Games torch can certainly be
alight on Everest peak, and everyone will be able to see a bright
flame," Ma Lin, the head of the Beijing government's science committee
said, according to Wednesday's Beijing News.

Ferocious winds and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22
Fahrenheit) at the summit presented special difficulties in designing
the torch, Ma said. But they had been overcome.

The torch relay is scheduled to climb Everest in May, with the precise
date to be decided by the weather.
The relay's inclusion of Tibet, ruled with an iron hand by China since
People's Liberation Army troops marched in in 1950, has angered
advocates of autonomy for the region.
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