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Olympic flame leaves for Inner Mongolia
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08:54, July 08, 2008

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The Olympic flame completed its three-day trip through Gansu province yesterday, after changing runners in the two-millennia-old "Golden City" beside the Yellow River.

The relay in Gansu spanned three, instead of the scheduled four, cities. Tianshui, a Silk Road city noted for its 1,700-year-old Buddhist grottoes was removed from the relay route after having been badly hit by the earthquake on May 12.

The relay on Saturday took place in Dunhuang, site of the World Heritage-listed Mogao Grottoes, and on Sunday in Jiayuguan, where stands the Jiayu Pass - first pass at the western end of the Great Wall - prior to arriving in Lanzhou.

Torchbearers who had originally been assigned to the relay to Tianshui converged in Lanzhou yesterday. The resultant 296 torchbearers was the largest gathering since May 4, when the mainland leg of the Olympic torch relay started in Sanya, Hainan Island.

The relay in Lanzhou followed the course of the Yellow River, which flows through the city, and continued for 15.6 km. It started at the city's 101-year-old, 234-m-long oldest steel-framed bridge in China.

Called Zhenyuan Bridge when first built in 1907, it was renamed Dr Sun Yat-sen Bridge at the end of the 1920s to commemorate the forerunner of China's democratic revolution, who passed away in 1925.

Tian Yu, a grassroots official in Jialing county of Longnan, Gansu who led local residents in digging eight people out of debris as well as moving 3,000 tons of grain and more than 200 cattle to safe ground, was yesterday's first torchbearer.

"My grandmother passed away one day before the earthquake. I will take the torch to her tomb and tell her that her grandson is a decent man and that her fellow villagers will build a more beautiful homeland than before," Tian said after finishing his run.

Yesterday's relay ended in the Water Wheel Garden on the southern banks of the Yellow River, where stand 12 20-m diameter water wheels that irrigate the fields.

Today's torch relay is in Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The flame will travel to Erdos and Baotou tomorrow, and arrive in Chifeng on Thursday.

Source: China Daily

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