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At least 3,000 passengers stranded by strong winds
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Strong winds forced northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to close a trunk highway, leaving at least 3,000 passengers stranded in Urumqi, the region's capital, said the regional transport authorities on Friday.

The highway, linking Urumqi with the southern part of the region as well as other provinces, was closed on Friday morning at the section from Turpan to Xiaocaohu.

According to the regional meteorological station, force 8 to 9 winds blew in the area. The section is one of Xinjiang's areas that see strong winds most frequently.

The traffic on the highway had not resumed by press time.

Urumqi was also hit by heavy snow on Friday afternoon, delaying several flights from Urumqi to other cities in the region and to the southern city Guangzhou in Guangdong Province.

"The snow got heavier after 1:00 p.m. and the lowest temperature dropped to minus 10 degrees centigrade," said an employee at the Urumqi Airport.

"The planes will not take off until it stops snowing."

The passengers of the delayed flights have been accommodated in hotels and no one was stranded at the airport, said the employee.

(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2008)

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