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Beijing starts construction of world's largest Ferris wheel
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Beijing started on Monday to build the world's largest Ferris wheel, hoping to offer tourists a bird's-eye view of the city.




These computer-generated images released by the Beijing Great Wheel Corp on November 5, 2007 show the Beijing Great Wheel which will stand in eastern Beijing's Chaoyang Park. Higher than both the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer, which opens in March, the Beijing Great Wheel will tower 208 metres (682 ft) when finished in 2009, executives said on Monday, which would make it the highest and largest in the world. [Agencies]

The Ferris wheel, with an investment of 99 million U.S. dollars, will stand 208 meters high. It will be built in Chaoyang Park in eastern Beijing as part of facilities to commemorate the 2008 Olympic Games.


Beijing intended to have the landmark wheel completed and opened to tourists ahead of the Games, however, the project was delayed several times for further improvement of designing, said sources with the Beijing Great Wheel Corporation.


There is no exact timetable yet for its completion. The Beijing Great Wheel Corporation wrote on its website that the project will be completed in 2009. The wheel's foundation was originally laid in May 2006.


The Ferris wheel, which has a diameter of 193 meters, was designed by the same Dutch company that worked on the London Eye, the 135-meter structure built in the British capital in 1999 for the millennium celebrations.


So far, Chaoyang Park authorities have not yet set a price for a ride on the attraction. A "flight" on the London Eye is 13 British pounds.


Shanghai Construction Group is the prime contractor for the Beijing wheel's construction. When completed, the ride will have 48 air-conditioned, wheelchair-accessible compartments that can carry up to1,920 passengers at a time, said Great Wheel Corporation Chairman Florian Bollen. A ride lasts around 30 minutes.


Following the success of the London Eye, which has received more than 30 million visitors in the past seven years, observation wheels are becoming increasingly popular across the world. "They are the perfect way to get an overview of a city when you arrive," Bollen said.


Last year, Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, launched the 160-meter-high "Star of Nanchang".


(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2007)


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