Thunderstorm strands thousands at SW China airport

19:25, September 21, 2010      

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More than 10,000 passengers were stranded at an airport in southwest China's Sichuan Province after 20 hours of thunderstorms, airport authorities said Tuesday.

Thunderstorms began to hit the provincial capital Chengdu at 8 p.m. Monday and stopped at 5 a.m. Tuesday but then started again at 8 a.m.

The city's weather bureau recorded 359 lightning strikes in the two hours between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

There was still no letup in the storms by 3 p.m. Tuesday, said an official at Shuangliu International Airport, which is located in the suburbs of Chengdu.

Over the past 20 hours, five incoming flights were forced to return to their airport of origin while 28 flights were diverted to neighboring cities, he said.

At least 10 flights were canceled and more than 100 postponed. The situation is likely to worsen, as the weather bureau has forecast more rain for Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The stormy weather has caused chaos at Shuangliu International Airport, which handles about 600 takeoffs and landings per day.

The thunderstorms and delayed or canceled flights have also affected holidaymakers' plans for the Mid-Autumn Festival, an important Chinese holiday that falls on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua


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