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China Focus: Mankind brings Olympic flame to top of the world

Updated:2008-05-15 13:08 | Source:

  BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Mankind has taken the Olympic flame to the top of the 8,844.43-meter (29,035-foot) Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) for the first time in history Thursday morning at 9:17 a.m. Beijing time, after overcoming a string of difficulties.

  The 19-member team, of one ethnic Tu, 13 Tibetan, and five ethnic Han mountaineers, climbed from an 8,300-meter-high camp on Mt. Qomolangma early Thursday with the Olympic flame in a special canister.

  The team overcame one difficulty after another.They passed the Second Step between 8,600 meters and 8,700 meters, the biggest challenge in the climb as they had to inch forward on slippery 40-degree slopes.

  At about 9:11 a.m., five bearers lit their torches, designed by rocket scientists one, after another to pass the flame along the final icy incline to the peak.

  At 9:17, the final torch bearer, Tsering Wangmo, held her torch over her head on the summit, as other team members unfurled Olympic and Chinese flags, cheering "Beijing welcomes you", even though they can be heard struggling for breath through the live broadcast because of lack of oxygen and a temperature below minus 30 degrees Celsius.

  "I am grateful to be given such an opportunity to bring the sacred flame to the top of Qomolangma," said Tsering Wangmo, who topped the 8,844-summit in 2006 at the age of 21.

  "I am sure my husband in the heaven is so proud of me right now," said Gigi, the first of the five torch bearers.

  Gigi's husband Renna, also a member of the China Tibet Mountaineering Team, died on his way up Gasherbrum I, the 11th highest peak on earth, in 2005.

  Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping congratulated the climbers on Thursday morning.

  "This is one of the greatest events in the history of the Games and a gift from the Chinese to the Olympics and people worldwide," Xi said in a telegram to climbers.

  The successful Qomolangma assault also showcased the high technology applied to the 2008 Beijing Games, according to Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang.

  "The torches can burn in temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius and 0.3 atmospheric pressure, and can also withstand hurricanes," Wan told a press conference here on Thursday.

Editor : LiuAnqi

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics