A snowstorm that hit north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning has caused traffic to come to a halt on a section of a national highway and on the Harbin-Manzhouli and Hailar-Manzhouli railways.
Heavy snow accompanied by strong winds hit Hulun Buir Grassland, in the eastern part of Inner Mongolia, at around 8 p.m. Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of 18 trains, including one passenger train, on the Manzhouli-Hailar Railway.
The snowstorm also delayed the departure of a passenger train heading for Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, from Manzhouli, a border city in Inner Mongolia, and the arrivals of trains coming from Russia.
Due to the heavy snow, several dozen passenger buses and cars were stranded on the 15-kilometer-long section of the No. 301 national highway from Chen Barag Banner to Manzhouli.
More than 560 railway workers and soldiers were mobilized to clear snow on the highway to rescue the stranded people.
Xin Changguo, head of Hulun Buir City Transportation Bureau, said the visibility on the Manzhouli-Hailar section of the No. 301highway was only about 10 meters on Wednesday due to strong winds with floating dust. The snow was 1.5 meters thick in some sections of the highway.
By Thursday morning, more than 70 people and 50 vehicles had been rescued. All rescued people have been sent to the nearby homes of herdsmen.
Local transportation officials said traffic on the highway was not expected to resume Thursday.
According to the Hulun Buir City Meteorological Station forecast, the local temperature was 6 degrees C. below zero during the daytime and 19 degrees C. below zero Thursday evening. Light snow was forecast for the coming five days.
Rescue efforts were still going on.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2004)