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Snow-hit central China bid farewell to darkness
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People in Chenzhou of central China's Hunan Province greeted each other on the Spring Festival eve in a new way.
Rather than "Happy Lunar New Year", they shouted in the street amid the noise of firecrackers "power supply is restored".

Workers repair a power cable tower destroyed by heavy snow to ensure power supply for the Spring Festival celebrations in Chenzhou of Hunan Province February 6. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 7 this year.

Chenzhou, the worst-hit region by the severe snow and home to four million people which had seen its power supply cut for weeks, was among the 162 snow-hit counties that had electricity mostly restored as of 5 PM Wednesday, or the Spring Festival eve.

Liao Bin carrying his luggage rushed out of a four-star hotel. "I can go home how," he said excitedly.

Electricity and water supply were cut in his home since January 28, forcing his family to move into the hotel that could provide hot water for two hours a day and heating for short periods.

But the price, 518 yuan (US$73) a day, boosted his expenditure for the Spring Festival by 5,000 yuan.

Perhaps nowhere in the city could be as busy as banks, as shortage of electricity has shut down many banks and even ATM machines. People had to queue for at least half an hour to draw out money.

Lack of electricity in the previous days left water supply still in shortage.

In the Nanling Villa community, only residents on the first floor could have a stream of faucet water. Many people there opened their door for neighbors.

"The disaster is, to some extent, a good opportunity," said Xiang Hua, a resident there. "In the past, we closed the doors without knowing who-you-are at the next door. But in the past days, I can recognize almost all the neighbors."

To Deng Tao, this Spring Festival is a special one.

Sitting in front of a table with 12 dishes in candle light, he felt contented.

"The past year, although marked with hardship, will become a precious memory in my mind," Deng said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2008)

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