Six primary and middle schools along subways in Guangzhou City in south China on Sunday were used to take in stranded passengers waiting for tickets for journeys home for the Spring Festival holiday.
The schoolhouses can accommodate 1,100 passengers each, said a source from the education department of Guangzhou, capital of the southern Guangdong Province.
Continuous snow and freezing rain in the southern regions, including Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Guizhou, Guangdong and Jiangsu, since mid-January have led to widespread power failure, frozen tap water, highway closure and crop damage.
The central Hunan Province and the western land-locked Guizhou Province have been the worst hit by the weather. Sections of the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway, a north-south trunk line, and the Beijing-Zhuhai freeway were cut off for days.
The snowy weather, the worst in 50 years, has cut off the journey of tens of millions eager to return home for the Spring Festival, a traditional festival for family reunions that falls on Thursday.
Guangdong, an economic powerhouse, has the largest number of migrant workers in the country.
Wang Yongping, Railway Ministry spokesman, said on Sunday that so far, nearly one million people holding train tickets were still stranded in Guangzhou alone.
A number of regions have been trumpeting an initiative calling on migrant workers to stay put and spend this year's Spring Festival in cities where they had been working.
Guangdong Provincial Labor and Security Department on Sunday issued a special circular asking different localities to organize a range of colorful and diverse activities for migrant workers who choose to stay behind instead of going home.
Statistics given by the department show by 11 a.m on Sunday, 12.46 million migrant workers had decided to stay in Guangdong for the holiday, while 3.4 million others had traveled back home. Another 3.14 million were still planning to go home.
By Saturday, a total of 7.06 million passengers had been transported from Guangzhou to other parts of the country by air, train, bus or waterways since Chunyun, or the Spring Festival transport season that began on Jan. 23, a year-on-year drop of 4.5 percent.
(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)