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Holiday mayhem as snow persists
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The prolonged snow, rain and cold weather have led to train delays in central and southern China and stranded tens of thousands of passengers.

Add expressway closures, flight cancellations and the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people and it equates to one word - chaos.


A total of 136 electric passenger trains came to a standstill on an artery railway in Hunan Province after power supplies were damaged by snow and icy rain.


Technicians and workers with the Guangzhou Railway Group, the operating firm, were using more than 100 diesel trains to pull the electric locomotives carrying thousands of passengers from a section that suffered a sudden drop in power, a company spokesman said.


About 40,000 passengers were stranded at stations along the trunk line linking Beijing and Guangzhou in the south, he said. Another 50,000 passengers were delayed at Guangzhou Railway Station.


More than 10,000 technical workers are repairing power lines, and trains scheduled to depart from Guangzhou have been canceled.


The company has sent employees with almost 10,000 kilograms of rice, vegetables, meat, edible oil, 20,000 boxes of instant noodles and drinking water to serve passengers aboard the stranded trains.


"It seems I will spend my Spring Festival holiday at this station," said a passenger from Chenzhou, Hunan Province, who yesterday was delayed for several hours at Changsha Railway Station along with 2,000 others. "The expressway was shut. I thought it would be easier to go home by railway, but I never thought trains could be delayed by snow."


Delays of up to nine hours at stations were also reported in Kunming, in Yunnan Province, and Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province.


Airports in Hunan and eastern Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces as well as expressways have been closed.


About 9,900 vehicles are stranded on a highway in Guangdong's Ruyuan County and more than 20,000 vehicles with 60,000 people aboard are stuck near Hunan's Xiangtan City. Similar cases are also reported in southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


January snow, the worst in 50 years in China's south, center and east, has affected tens of millions of people, forced mass relocations, led to power cuts, collapsed buildings, damaged crops and left thousands of head of livestock dead.


Five people died in a snow-related accident in Hunan and three in Guizhou Province.


Across the country, millions of people are trying to return home for the Spring Festival.





(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2008)

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