Vietnam starts work on tramway to Fansipan

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Tourists climb up Fansipan

Work on an aerial tramway to the top of Fansipan, the tallest peak in Indochina, began Saturday as part of a drive to boost tourism in northern Vietnam.

The tram, scheduled to be completed late next year and go on-stream in 2015, will cut the 3,143-meter climb up Fansipan from two days and nights to a 15 minute "flight."

The tramway will be the first of its kind in Asia, and the world's longest and highest at 6,200 meters long and 3,000 meters high, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said at the launch of the project, according to a report on the government website.

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Mountain men

Fansipan attracts foreign and Vietnamese tourists alike, but Lao Cai authorities recently tightened rules on the mountain after a missing person incident that involved an independent group of climbers that had not informed authorities of their trip.

Pham Ngoc Anh, a 20-year-old college student from Hanoi, has been missing on the mountain since last July. Other students in his group said he went along a different path when they stopped for a rest and never came back.

The cable car will be followed by the construction of hotels and recreational facilities in the northern highlands.

The Fansipan - Sa Pa Cable Car Company, which is building the tramway, is a member of Sun Group Corporation which invested in the 5,802-meter cable car at Ba Na Hills in Da Nang where it is based.

Lao Cai Province authorities will supervise and support the VND4.4 trillion (US$209 million) project in procedural steps.

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