Widespread snowstorms have wreaked havoc across the country,
causing dozens of fatalities and severe traffic disruptions.
Heavy snow has blocked freeways and closed airports in the
central parts of the country, forcing a large number of passengers
to flock to the railways, which are less affected by bad
Tourists take photos of trees covered with
ice in the town of Caoyuan in Longli county, Guizhou province
yesterday. A recent cold front from the north has sent temperatures
plummeting across the country. Wu Dongjun
The Ministry of Railways said yesterday that the daily passenger
volume on Saturday and Sunday grew at a scorching pace, an increase
of more than 1 million people each day from the same period last
Official figures show that 4.49 million people traveled by rail
on Saturday, up 44.5 percent, and 4.32 million on Sunday, up 35.3
"An increase of more than 1 million passengers per day is very
rare," ministry spokesman Wang Yongping said.
Wang said the snow forced many people to make last-minute
changes to their road or air travel plans, which led to a surge in
the number of railway passengers.
To ensure a safe and smooth travel flow, the ministry has issued
an emergency notice urging all railway bureaus to closely monitor
the weather and be prepared for contingencies.
There are currently no serious delays in train departures across
In Hubei, about 1,000 km of roads have been closed since
Saturday. More than 8,800 of the scheduled 9,500 long-distance
coaches from Wuhan were cancelled, affecting about 300,000
passengers, according to local sources.
In Anhui, all freeways in areas north of the Yangtze River have
been closed since 3 pm on Saturday, said sources from the Anhui
The unusually-long four-day snowstorm that hit the two provinces
has affected more than 10 million people and caused a direct loss
of 1.14 billion yuan ($157 million), the Ministry of Civil Affairs
By yesterday morning, nearly 9,200 houses had been toppled by
the snow, 57,500 people evacuated to safer places, and 557,300
hectares of farming land damaged, the ministry said.
Eleven people were killed when an overloaded bus overturned on a
snow-covered highway in Anhui, police said yesterday, raising the
death toll from weather-related accidents over the weekend to at
least 25 nationwide.
The accident happened on Sunday when the bus - with a licensed
capacity of 51 passengers - was carrying 72 people in the city of
Mingguang. Fifty-one people were injured.
Five people were killed in Hubei and Anhui, buried in houses
that collapsed under the weight of snow, according to Xinhua.
The transmission line that carries electricity from the Three
Gorges Project to Shanghai was broken in the heavy snow, and more
than 450 staff have been working around the clock to repair it.
Since Saturday, a number of flights in the central parts of the
country were cancelled or delayed.
Zhengzhou airport in Henan province was closed, and nearly 6,000
Sichuan also saw its biggest snowfall in a decade. The
temperature was 2-3 C below average for the time of year, which is
very rare, said senior Sichuan meteorologist Fan Xiaohong. The snow
started on January 11 and is forecast to fall for another five
In Guizhou, power to seven counties was cut, affecting more than
The number of people rescued from snowbound highways in Tibet
since last Thursday rose to 131 by yesterday afternoon.
However, the government of Ngari Prefecture fears others are
still stranded in a snowstorm that began sweeping the area four
Many sections of highways have been blocked in Ngari, a remote
prefecture in the west of the Tibet autonomous region.
The National Meteorological Center has forecast that heavy
snowfall will continue in central and eastern China till
(Shanghai Daily January 22, 2008)