Large tracts of the country have been battling transport havoc
caused by heavy snowfall, as forecasters on Sunday issued a red
alert - the highest on a scale of five - warning of more snow and
sleet in the coming days.
The snow, the most in 50 years in many areas, has been sweeping
the central, eastern and southwestern parts of the country in
recent days, paralyzing air, rail and highway traffic and stranding
tens of thousands of passengers amid a pre-holiday travel peak.
A migrant worker braves
snowfall at Wuxi railway station in Jiangsu Province on January 27,
Almost 150,000 passengers were stuck at Guangzhou railway
station by Saturday night after a power failure caused by snow, ice
and sleet stopped more than 136 electric trains in Hunan province
on the trunk line between Beijing and Guangzhou.
Though the power supply resumed at 4 pm on Saturday, 50 trains
remain stranded between Hengyang in Hunan and Guangzhou.
A Guangzhou railway official warned yesterday that the number of
stranded passengers in Guangzhou could hit 600,000 today.
"Last night, 100,000 passengers packed the square in front of
the railway station; another 50,000 found shelter inside the
building or under nearby flyovers," said an official in
In cold and drizzly weather, Chen Zhenyu had spent more than 12
hours on the railway station square before she could board her
train home last night.
"I dared not sleep because I did not know when my train would
leave," the migrant worker from Hubei province told China Daily
before she boarded the train more than 10 hours behind
"But I feel lucky because I can finally board the train to go
home to spend the Lunar New Year with my family," said the woman in
She said some of her coworkers, after waiting a dozen hours, had
returned to their factories because they did not know when their
trains would depart.
The Ministry of Railways has dispatched about 100 diesel
locomotives to move the electric trains and ordered 63 trains to
bypass the non-operational section and take different routes via
the Beijing-Kowloon line or the Shanghai-Kunming line.
The ministry also sent 35 trains from Beijing, Wuhan and
Nanchang to help the stranded passengers.
Road traffic between Hunan and Guangdong provinces has also
ground to a halt. Traffic was at a standstill yesterday on the
southern section of the expressway linking Beijing with Zhuhai in
Guangdong, where 60,000 people were stuck in 20,000 vehicles.
Several regional airports were shut by the weather, including
the one at Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.
Hunan's Huanghua Airport has been closed since Friday in the
worst cold snap in a decade
Snow has affected the lives of 25.22 million people across the
province, killing seven, including three power company workers who
died while removing ice from a 50-meter tall tower that collapsed
on Saturday afternoon.
The Central Meteorological Station said the extreme weather was
likely to continue for a week, especially in the southern,
northwestern and central regions.
"There hasn't been any rise in temperatures or any room for
optimism," said Yang Guiming, the chief weatherman.
Emergency measures ordered
The government yesterday ordered urgent steps to tackle
transport chaos and energy and food supply strains caused by brutal
Premier Wen Jiabao said the weather was threatening lives and
disrupting supplies of fresh food, coal, oil and electricity ahead
of the Lunar New Year, which starts on Feb 7.
Wen and other top officials announced steps aimed at softening
the economic blow from the bad weather and energy shortages.
Provinces were ordered not to hoard coal and electricity, and
officials said they would waive some transport charges for farm
goods and monitor price hikes. Trains must cope with tens of
millions of passengers surging home for the holidays, while more
coal must be shipped to power plants.
Wen said energy strains could worsen as power plants' coal
reserves ran dangerously low. "The most difficult phase has not
passed," he said.
Inter-provincial buses are
parked at a bus station due to heavy snowfall in Hefei, east
China's Anhui Province January 27, 2008.
Accumulated snow crushes
the roof of a gas station in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province
January 27, 2008.
Two men push a taxi stuck
in snow on a street in Hefei, east China's Anhui Province January
The Shenxiu Lake on Langya
Mountain is frozen in heavy snow in Chuzhou, east China's Anhui
Province January 26, 2008.
A pet dog wearing a costume
runs on the snow in Hefei, east China's Anhui Province January 27,
Passengers queue at the
Fuzhou Railway Station to buy or refund tickets after the bad
weather blocked trains arriving in Fuzhou, east China's Fujian
Province, January 27, 2008.
Passengers queue at
Shanghai's South Railway Station, waiting to get on the trains
while more than twenty trains are delayed in the bad weather,
January 26, 2008.
(China Daily January 28, 2008)