Cold spell hits Beijing, home-goers stranded

08:13, February 12, 2010      

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An abrupt arrival of cold front, coupled with extremely low temperature hit Beijing and northern China, as the whole country is busy to greet a 7-day Spring Festival season.

Heavy snow and rain yesterday closed down at least 30 highways in northern China , affecting millions of travelers as they headed home for the holidays. And, blizzards are set to hit more areas in Northeastern provinces.

China's transport system yesterday handled an estimated 67 million home-goers, with the roads and railways are all packed with running cars and motoring people.

Traffic police shut 35 highways in parts of the northern provinces after ice covered road surfaces and left thousands of vehicles stranded. And, a heavy snowfall hit northern Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces, dumping snow up to 4 cm thick in some areas to disrupt air and ground travel.

Snowstorms also stranded eight passengers in two cars that heading toward Taiyuan, capital city of Shanxi Province. After receiving calls for help at midnight, police officers rescued the eight passengers, including a Chinese Canadian, back to Taiyuan at 5 am Thursday.

Snow that started falling in the northern province on Tuesday also intensified during the night, forcing Taiyuan Airport to close at 2:30 am yesterday. At least two incoming flights had to stop over in Beijing, airport official Fan Zhifeng said.

In Handan of Hebei province, cars were reportedly stranded on the Beijing-Zhuhai expressway for five hours yesterday morning. The inclement weather also led to numerous minor traffic accidents.

"I witnessed at least five traffic accidents along the way. It is too slippery to drive safely, even at a slow speed," said Ye Haiying, who had been driving on the expressway since Tuesday night.

Blizzards also hit parts of the Tibet autonomous region since Monday.

As of Tuesday night, the region's Ngari prefecture reported 21.7 mm of precipitation and fresh snow on the ground measured 23 cm.

The Spring Festival rush for home peaked Thursday, with an estimated 5.2 million passenger trips by railway alone. About 210 million train trips are expected to be made before and after the major holiday.

Railway authorities said trains will slow down when fresh snow measures 40 cm and train services will be halted once the snow exceeds 50 cm.

People's Daily Online


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