Strong winds lead to railway traffic suspension in NW China

Updated: 2007-08-13 10:34

URUMQI -- Railway authority has temporarily closed the South Xinjiang Railway and 1,500 people were stranded on a highway in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Sunday because of  strong winds.

The South Xinjiang Railway was closed at around 9:00 a.m. Sunday and had not opened to traffic by 5:00 p.m. as winds remained very strong, according to the enquiry office of the South Railway Station of Urumqi.

Two trains with thousands of passengers aboard running from Kashi to Urumqi, the region's capital, were delayed, while at least six others shuttling between Urumqi and southern parts of Xinjiang were cancelled as hurricane-force winds of up to 117 km per hour swept over parts of the railway.

Meanwhile, about 1,500 people in more than 300 vehicles were stranded on Sunday evening as winds of at least 89 km per hour hit the Turpan section of National Highway 312.

Windows in some vehicles were broken by stones in the winds. There were no reports of casualties at the moment.

The Turpan government has arranged schools, hotels and government buildings to accommodate the stranded people and has prepared food and water for them.

An official with the Turpan government said traffic might resume on the highway on Monday morning when winds weaken.

In February, hurricane-force winds derailed 11 carriages of a train in Xinjiang, killing three passengers and injuring 34 others.

In April last year the windows of a train from Urumqi to Beijing were cracked by a sandstorm and the train was delayed 32 hours near where the fatal accident occurred.

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