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Ice keeps key north-south expressway jammed
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The iced-over southern section of China's north-south artery road, the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway, was still jammed in both directions on Sunday morning as freezing rain continued falling.

The 2,310-kilometer expressway that links the capital to Zhuhai City in the southern Guangzhou Province closed much of its length in late January, when snow and freezing rain disrupted traffic. It was ordered to re-open to ensure emergency supplies to disaster areas.

According to road traffic updates from transportation departments on Sunday, traffic was running smoothly on the expressway in north China's Hebei and Henan and central China's Hubei Province. But there was much congestion in the mountainous parts of Hunan and Guangdong provinces, where roads were packed with wagons, buses and private cars.

The pressure on the slick expressway was worsening, as many home-bound holiday travelers stranded at railway stations and airports took to the road.

A Xinhua reporter saw a 70-km expressway section in Hunan come to a standstill on Sunday morning. More than 1,000 soldiers have been sent to shovel ice and snow off the road.

Xinhua reporters also saw numerous wagons standing by the roadside in the Chenzhou City section of the expressway in Hunan. Some drivers said that they had been stranded there for 11 days.

The Hunan Province Observatory forecast that the cold and rainy weather would continue to Feb. 5, when a cold current would bring another round of rain. The bad weather meant that ice would persist on the roads.

Ice 2-10 centimeters deep caked the expressway in northern Guangdong. Road maintenance workers used forklifts to shovel off ice in sections of expressway on Feb. 1, but the ice returned when the province received overnight rain on Feb. 2. Some sections of the expressway in the province were forced to shut down.

"It was the first time that machines were used to remove ice and snow on the expressway in Guangdong. The bad weather was rare in the province," said Du Jun, general manager of the Beijing-Zhuhai Bei Expressway Corp.

Traffic jams were seen on a 239-km section of the expressway in the eastern province of Anhui. Police and medics were working alongside the jammed expressway, offering help to the needy.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)
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