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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 00:49 GMT
China begins world-record wheel
Graphic showing world's biggest wheel

China has started to build what will be the world's biggest wheel, dwarfing its rivals, including the London Eye.

The observation wheel, due to open in 2009, will stand at 208m (686ft) - the third-tallest structure in Beijing.

Designed to commemorate the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing Great Wheel is expected to hold about 1,920 people.

Officials say visitors will get "an unsurpassed view of the city", although some analysts have joked that pollution might stop visitors from seeing much.

When completed, the $99m (50m) structure will eclipse the Star of Nanchang - the current highest wheel, also in China, which stands at 160m.

The next-closest competitor, the London Eye, is more than 70m shorter, standing at a mere 135m.

The Great Wheel Company, which is also building another giant wheel in Singapore, originally intended the Beijing wheel to begin turning on 1 August 2008, just days before the start of the Olympic Games.

But the firm said it had pushed the opening back to allow time for design improvements.

There are expected to be 48 capsules on the Beijing wheel, each of them capable of carrying up to 40 people.

Pictures of the planned Great Wheel

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