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Olympic torch relay ends first leg in quake-hit Sichuan Province
15:19, August 03, 2008

The Olympic torch relay wound up on Sunday morning in Guang'an City, the first leg in the earthquake-hit Sichuan province in Southwest China.

At 9:10 a.m. local time, the final torchbearer Wang Jianjun, also Party chief of Guang'an, ran into the city's exhibition center and lit a ceremonial flame cauldron, which marked the end of the 90-minute 7.3-km route.

A total of 189 torchbearers, aged between 15 to 85, took part in the torch relay in Guang'an, famous as the birthplace of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's reform and opening up drive.

The starting point of the Guang'an torch relay was the Exhibition Hall of Deng Xiaoping's Former Residence.

Following a one-minute silence tribute to those killed in a deadly earthquake that hit Sichuan on May 12, the torch relay started at 7:40 and the first torchbearer was Jiang Min, a policewoman in Pengzhou city near the epicenter of Wenchuan.

The policewoman, who lost 10 relatives including her two-year-old daughter and her parents in the catastrophe, had moved the hearts of all the Chinese by standing at the front lines of relief efforts.

"I will bring the Olympic spirit to my work and we can rebuild the homeland through our joint efforts," she told Xinhua after finishing her stretch.

Holding Chinese and Olympic flags, thousands of people lined along the 7.3-km route to support Jiang and the other 188 torchbearers with loud applause and cheers.

Many held banners with the Olympic slogans "One World, One Dream" and "Light the Passion Share the Dream."

Guang'an was the first leg of the torch relay in Sichuan. Following Guang'an, Leshan and the provincial capital Chengdu would also hold the torch relay.

Sichuan was severely hit by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12. The death toll from the quake has reached nearly 70,000, while nearly 20,000 others are reported missing.

After the earthquake, the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, or the BOCOG, adjusted the relay route and decided to pass the Olympic torch through Sichuan from Aug. 3 to 5.

Following Sichuan, the Olympic flame will arrive in the host city Beijing on Aug. 6, two days prior to the opening of the Games.

Source: Xinhua

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