Crowds endure waits as Shanghai`s Expo opens

A steady flow of visitors joined long lines in sweltering heat at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on Sunday, a day after organisers said visitor numbers were just more than half of what was expected.

Updated: May 02, 2010, 14:50 PM IST

Shanghai: A steady flow of visitors joined long lines in sweltering heat at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on Sunday, a day after organisers said visitor numbers were just more than half of what was expected.

Organisers say they are still grappling with estimates about just how many people will attend the massive event aimed at showcasing China`s rise as a modern industrial power. Early estimates put the number of visitors over the six-month run of the World Expo at 70 million, the vast majority of whom are expected to come from China.

High temperatures and bottlenecks at security checks and long waits to enter the various pavilions are challenging organisers. On Saturday, when the event opened, organisers said about 350,000 tickets had been sold for Day 1, but about 200,000 people attended.

Events yesterday continued well into the evening, with people still lining up at midnight to visit pavilions. The European pavilions, which offer a wide range of entertainment, drink and dining, seemed to be attracting the largest crowds.

Tempers sometimes flared in the long lines and the tedious wait for security checks, but the head of the Expo`s coordinating committee said there were no major problems. “We need to adopt new policies to deal with higher temperatures as the weather changes,`` Hong Hao told reporters.

China is splashing out USD 4.2 billion on the Expo itself, and many billions more on improvements such as public transit for this city of 20 million people.

The event involves massive security, though commercial-minded Shanghai has kept measures low-key compared with the lockdown imposed for the Beijing Olympics, when tourist visas were cancelled and the capital was cleared of migrant workers.

PTI