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Snow challenges returning crowds
By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-16 00:35

Heavy snow that began falling yesterday morning throughout the mid-east parts of China poses a great challenge to ongoing peak travel crowds trying to return to work on the last day of the week-long Spring Festival holiday.

People walk across the snow-covered tarmac of the Beijing Capital International Airport yesterday. [newsphoto]
Rainy and chilly weather is also occurring in traditionally warm winter areas in China's large southern cities.

However, the bad weather will not impede the returns of large groups of Chinese humanity.

Tens of thousands Chinese travellers, for family-reunions or sight-seeing purposes, are braving the bad weather and heading back to China's major cities and coastal areas, that supply great job opportunities for numerous non-native people.

The weather forecast by China Central Observatory shows that the rainy, snowy and windy days with sharp temperature falls - covering most parts of China - are expected to continue intermittently for the next 10 days.

To secure smooth railways, road, shipping and airlines transport, the Ministry of Communications has required all relevant departments to provide sound service and guarantee safe operations in bad weather.

The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China has issued a notice calling for preparation for the launch of emergency traffic measures.

An estimated 800,000 traffic administration staff are involved in the work of clearing snow and checking the safety of traffic facilities.

In Beijing, which is facing its first snow fall in the Year of the Rooster, local traffic departments used 550 tons of snow-melting agents on major avenues and sent out 269 vehicles to clean slippery roads.

The neighbouring Tianjin section of the Beijing-Tianjin-Tanggu expressway and Beijing-Shijiazhuang expressway were suspended for hours due to snow.

Tianjin airport was temporarily closed yesterday, and no times were available for the resumption of flights.

Zhang Zhiyun, a meteorologist with the Tianjin Municipal Observatory predicted it may stop snowing this morning.

In Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, more than 3,000 passengers were detained in the local airport on Monday afternoon, when the city encountered heavy snow a day earlier than other places.

The city is expecting minor snow tomorrow and heavier falls on Friday.

Even in East China's Zhejiang, where it seldom snows, people have had a rainy and snowy week-long holiday and it may last till the end of the week.

Lou Maoyuan, director with Hangzhou observatory, denied the folk saying the unusual weather was brought about by the December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Railway passengers may be the least effected in the midst of bad weather.

Yesterday alone, a total of 210,000 passengers arrived in Beijing via railways, an increase of 10,000 over Monday.

Ten traffic safety working teams of the Beijing Railway Administration helped smooth the operation of railway transport.

In Shanghai, some 240,000 passengers are reported flocking back on trains, almost double the registered arrival numbers on Monday.

Mid to long distance buses also set a new record over Monday and yesterday, since large groups of people consider them more economical and convenient than other transport means.

Some 137,582 vehicles were recorded entering Beijing yesterday, mainly from neighboring provinces and carrying migrant workers.

Meteorologists forecast the bad weather will not lift until next Tuesday.

(China Daily 02/16/2005 page1)

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