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Heavy fog adds to traffic woes
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The Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway was re-opened, but parts of South China were shrouded in heavy fog yesterday morning adding to traffic woes caused by snow and sleet for the past three weeks.

State leaders, however, expressed confidence of winning the fight against all odds and restoring normality and order during Spring Festival.

People's Liberation Army soldiers carry steel frames to install poles and restore power supply in snow-hit Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, on February 4. The disaster has left 1.8 million people there without electricity for 10 days.

President Hu Jintao said transport, power supply and people's livelihood are the top priorities of the ongoing relief work. His remarks came at a meeting with non-CPC personalities.

Electricity supply is being restored and transport services are basically back to normal, Premier Wen Jiabao said.

With the snowfall weakening, rail transport is also returning to normal, the Ministry of Railways said.

The country is confident and capable of overcoming the disaster, Wen said at a seminar, attended by more than 20 foreign nationals engaged in the revolution and building of new China.

There was good news for the southern parts of the country for the Lunar New Year. China Meteorological Administration spokeswoman Jiao Meiyan said yesterday that most areas in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River would have clear days from Feb 6 to 9, with the mercury rising gradually.

But after February 10, she said, a new round of snow and rainfall is likely to hit southern China again.

The fight against nature's fury is far from over. A thick fog reduced visibility to less than 100 m in parts of Chongqing municipality and Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hubei, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces, forcing postponement or cancellation of 50 flights in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu.

But as visibility improved in the afternoon, airports in Nanjing, Hangzhou in Zhejiang and Yichang in Hubei resumed operations, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) said.

The fog forced temporary closure of some expressways in Zhejiang, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi and Jiangsu and caused some traffic accidents, too.

In Hubei, a person was killed in an eight-vehicle pile-up on the freeway between Wuhan and Huangshi.

In Hunan, the fog slowed down traffic on the just reopened Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway, the country's arterial north-south road. The freeway re-opened fully after 1,200 soldiers and armed policemen worked for days to clear the ice and snow.

"Vehicles are running on the expressway now, though slowly, at 30 to 40 kph," Xinhua News Agency reporter Li Gang said in Hunan.

But even that was enough for the last of the 6,000 vehicles stranded on the freeway to move toward their destinations. Most of the drivers had been stranded on the road for up to a week.

Minister of Communications Li Shenglin said the north- south arterial road is vital for the health of the country's economy. Its closure had disrupted passenger transport, and food and fuel supply just before the country's peak holiday season.

The expressway had to be closed and re-opened many a time over the past week because of the heavy snowfall. Thick layers of snow deposited on long stretches of the expressway at night solidifying into ice by daybreak, making clearing work very difficult in the daytime.

A total of 239 trains ran on the vital Beijing-Guangzhou line on Sunday with no detours being reported. Altogether, 192 trains reached and 191 departed from Guangzhou, carrying 452,000 passengers.

The cold, icy weather has hit 19 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, destroyed 223,000 homes and damaged another 862,000. It had killed more than 60 people till Friday including 11 electricians who died in the course of duty.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2008)

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