June 22, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay Starts in China’s “Salt Lake City”

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

[Xinhua: "Olympic Torch Relay Starts in China's "Salt Lake City""]

GOLMUD, Qinghai, June 22 (Xinhua) - The Olympic torch relay kicked off its Qinghai leg Sunday morning in Golmud, China's "salt lake city".

Thousands of residents from the city and neighbouring counties gathered on the Salt Lake Square watching the starting ceremony of torch relay.

The ceremony began at 9 a.m. with a one-minute silence to the victims in the catastrophic May 12 Wenchuan quake in Sichuan Province, which claimed more than 69,000 lives.

Qiang Wei, party chief of Qinghai Province, passed the torch to the first torchbearer, Cega, a Tibetan man known as "Tibetan Antelope Guard" who spent more than 10 years on anti-poaching in the nearby Hol Xil Nature Reserve.

"As the first torchbearer, I'm very proud and excited," said Cega right before the start-up. "Wish the Beijing Olympics a perfect games."

The second torchbearer is local private entrepreneur Liu Shengchun, whose company donated Kunlun Jade worth of 36 million yuan to the Beijing Olympic organizers for making the Olympic medal.

A total of 171 torchbearers will run 7.5 kilometres in the rising industry city, which is located in central south of Qaidam Basin.

Originally published by Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 0212 22 Jun 08.

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