Consecutive snow and freezing weather have blocked about 14,000 km of highways in the southwestern province of Yunnan and more than 12,000 passengers will be affected on Sunday alone, according to a spokesman of the provincial transport department.
Since late January, snow storms hit Yunnan, and in the northern part of the province, roads were seriously damaged.
From Jan. 19 to Saturday, the interrupted roads have amounted to 14,000 km, of which expressways are 265 km and trunk roads more than 5,000 km.
The disaster left about 178,000 people and 20,000 motor vehicles stranded, and caused an economic loss of 154 million yuan (about 20.5 million U.S. dollars).
Snowy weather revisited the province on Thursday. Qujing, the second largest city in Yunnan, closed six highways, cancelled 42 coach routes and suspended operation of about 800 motor vehicles. Transport in other cities, including Zhaotong and Diqing, had also been affected by snows.
The provincial transport department has organized a repair working force to ensure smooth road travel, especially the transport of important equipment and materials. However, the repairs were greatly hampered by the plateau climate, poor facilities and shortage of money. The workers have no even special anti-freezing and snow removing facilities.
(Xinhua News Ageny February 17, 2008)