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Highway Planned for Mount Everest
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China began construction on Monday for a "highway" on Mount Qomolangma, or Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region 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 highway, expected to be completed in about four months, will become the major route for tourists and mountaineers crowding onto Mount Everest in growing 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)

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