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A retired Chinese man has been granted a patent for his innovative design of a bed that can automatically turn into a strongbox and help people survive an earthquake, the state media reported today.

The design, which uses modular furniture including cupboards on each end of the bed and a high-load bearing board, can be used for normal sleep and storage.

In the event of an earthquake, the components automatically combine to form a strongbox that encases its user, China Daily quoted its 66-year-old inventor Wang Wenxi as saying.

The necessities for survival such as drinking water, canned food, a megaphone, a hammer and other equipment can be stored in the cupboards in advance. They can help people survive for several days before being rescued, Wang said.

"I experienced the Xingtai and Tangshan earthquakes giving me more understanding of such natural disasters," the retired 66-year-old said.

China is frequently hit by earthquakes. "The Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes caused heavy casualties, so I thought the most serious thing I could do was to invent something to reduce the toll in lives," Wang said.

Nearly 70,000 people died in southwest China's Wenchuan county in Sichuan province in May 2008 when an earthquake with a magnitude of 8 hit the region. Similarly, some 2,700 people perished when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake devastated Yushu, an ethnically Tibetan region of northwestern Qinghai province, in April this year.

Since Wang retired from a local institute of industrial arts, he has showed keen interest in invention and creation.

"I think my life-saving bed is useful, especially suitable for brick-and-concrete low-rise buildings and bungalows," Wang said.

Wang now has six patented inventions including an automatic welding mask, an emergency brake for vehicles and crash buffer for cars.


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