China will begin Monday building a "highway" on Mount Qomolangma, the world's tallest peak, in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region so as to ease the path of those bearing the Olympic torch.
Budgeted at 150 million yuan (US$19.7 million), construction of the road will kick off at Qomolangma Base Camp 5,200 meters above sea level.
The project aims to turn a 108-km rough road linking Tingri County of Xigaze Prefecture at the foot of the mountain to the Base Camp into a blacktop highway fenced by undulating guardrails.
The project will take about four months. On completion, the highway will become the major route for tourists and mountaineers who are crowding onto Mount Qomolangma, known in the west as Mount Everest, in ever larger numbers.
Organizers of the Beijing Games have revealed ambitious plans for the longest torch relay in Olympic history -- a 137,000-kilometer, 130-day route that would cross five continents and scale the world's summit, which straddles the border between China and Nepal.
(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2007)