Civil aviation authorities said on Thursday that more than 3,250
flights had been cancelled during the six days through noon on
Wednesday as the worst snowstorms in decades wreaked havoc in
southern, central and eastern regions.
Bad weather also forced 380 planes to be diverted and delayed
5,550 flights, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of
China (CAAC) said. However, airlines still carried 3.17 million
passengers from the nation's 52 major airports between Jan. 23 and
29, up 11.8 percent from a year earlier, by flying larger
Snow and freezing rain have also caused deaths, housing
collapses, crop and livestock destruction, power blackouts, and
road and rail problems.
Severe weather had killed 38 people and resulted in the direct
economic loss of 32.67 billion yuan (4.5 billion U.S. dollars) in
17 provinces, regions, and municipalities by Wednesday afternoon,
according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Also affected were 105 million mu (7 million hectares) of crops,
with the harvest on 11.31 million mu completely wiped out, the
Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday.
Traffic on the trunk rail line linking Beijing and Guangzhou
began to return to normal, but Guangzhou railway authorities still
cancelled 54 trains on Thursday.
The traffic paralysis stranded hundreds of thousands of
passengers in Guangzhou, mostly people who were trying to go home
for Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 7.
The Ministry of Finance on Thursday earmarked another 138
million yuan for disaster relief, lifting the total relief fund to
431 million yuan.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has urged greater efforts to
guarantee coal, fuel and power production and supplies as well as
grain and fresh farm produce.
The power coal reserve stood at 21.19 million tons, less than
half of the normal level, and the shortfall had closed 42.12
million kilowatts in generating capacity, the State Electricity
Regulatory Commission said on Wednesday.
The premier also urged officials to give priority to power
supplies for homes, hospitals, schools, rail hubs, financial and
public institutions, and agricultural production. He ordered local
governments to limit or cut electricity to energy-intensive,
polluting industries in regions with power shortfalls.
Coal and electricity consumption was increasing rapidly in the
freezing winter, but coal supply was tight as many mid- and
small-sized mines have shut down for Lunar New Year, vice premier
Zeng Peiyan said.
Coal mines of all sizes should raise output, with safety in
mind, to be sure there were adequate supplies during Lunar New Year
in early February and the annual parliament meeting in March, Zeng
said during an inspection tour of the northern province of Hebei
and coal giant China Shenhua on Wednesday and Thursday.
(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)