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First snowfall in capital disrupts transport
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The first snowfall in Beijing this winter delayed at least 100 flights and caused huge traffic jams on the city's ring roads yesterday, officials said.


The snow, which fell till about noon, postponed most flights scheduled to leave in the morning and delayed others arriving in the afternoon.



Workers at Beijing Capital International Airport started to remove ice and snow on the runways from 6:15 am.


An airport official said more than 100 planes that landed at the airport overnight had to be defrosted before being able to take off.


The airport's air traffic control department also lengthened intervals between every two flights to ensure safety amid low visibility, the airport said in a news release.


"The delays are of a small scale and our three runways are all in normal operation. We are doing our best to appease the passengers," an airport official said.


The airport assigned more staff to guide travelers and made sure drinking water supplies were adequate.


The visibility in some urban areas yesterday was reduced to less than the 500m required for plane takeoff, the Xinhua News Agency reported.


From 7 am, the bad weather saw vehicles grinding to a halt for hours.


More than 300 workers and 117 vehicles were dispatched to clean up major streets for traffic to resume.


Experts said yesterday's snowfall would serve to clean the air and improve its quality, but the cold was also likely to cause injuries and induce respiratory diseases.


A spokesperson for the Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital in Chaoyang district reported yesterday that slippery roads caused a 40-year-old woman to fall off her bicycle at around 10 am, fracturing her wrist.


Weather forecasters have said it will be cloudy for the following two days, without any snowfall expected.


Meanwhile, lingering fog stranded more than 2,000 passengers yesterday at the Urumqi International Airport in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for the second day running.


More than 70 flights arriving at or departing from the regional capital have been canceled or delayed since Sunday. Heavy fog has also led to flight delays at the airport of Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi Province, yesterday.


(China Daily December 11, 2007)

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