Hundreds rescued as winds buffet NW China

Updated: 2012-02-05 15:02


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URUMQI - Almost 600 people have been returned to safety Sunday following a 13-hour operation to rescue them from an area buffeted by high winds in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, rescuers told Xinhua.

The 586 passengers in 96 vehicles had been stranded in the Maytas section of Provincial Highway 201, an area prone to high winds, since 7 pm Saturday amid a snow storm that had reduced visibility to zero, said Ma Zhengyuan, director of Emin County's branch of Tacheng road authority.

Rescuers closed the highway and worked to pluck the passengers to safety after receiving a phone call from the stranded people. All the passengers and vehicles had been taken out of the wind zone by 8 am Sunday.

As of noon Sunday, there are still road closures in place on the Maytas stretch of highway in Emin county, where blizzards commonly block roads and trap vehicles in winter.

A cold wave will sweep China nationwide from Sunday evening to Tuesday, bringing gales and plunging temperature in most parts of the country, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) warned on Sunday.

The NMC urged caution against the conditions, which will arrive before the Lantern Festival that falls on Monday, as many Chinese attend outdoor lantern shows in celebration.