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Overloaded roads feed holiday death toll
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-10 05:59

Roads swollen with tourist traffic resulted in at least 10 major accidents, claiming at least five lives each, during the week-long National Day holiday, according to official figures.

Officials from the traffic management department of the Ministry of Public Security said most of the accidents were caused by tired drivers or overloaded vehicles.

Since China adopted "golden week" holidays in 1999 for May Day, National Day and Spring Festival, many urban Chinese have used the time-off as an opportunity to travel, testing the nation's massive transport infrastructure.

"The conflict between heavy passenger flow and limited transport capacity has created a bottleneck for travelling during the holidays," Zhang Xiqin, vice-director of the State Tourism Administration, told a news conference over the weekend.

Official statistics show more than 38.3 million passengers caught the train while at least 326 million trips were made by road during the holiday.

Although the train is seen as a safe and cheap means of transport, the limited capacity and difficulty in getting a ticket forced many to turn to road transport. Overloaded coaches and buses are a common site, increasing the risk of accidents.

Statistics suggest the holiday scheme, initiated to boost the economy, has fulfilled its mission.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the retail volume of consumer goods reached 270 billion yuan(US$ 33.3 billion) during the holiday, up 14.2 per cent on last year.

According to the Administration of Tourism, tourism revenue amounted to 46.3 billion yuan (US$ 5.7 billion), up 7.5 per cent on last year.

(China Daily 10/10/2005 page2)

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