Millions stranded by the snow in holiday havoc
Heavy white storms staged a comeback late yesterday as China’s transport network remained crippled by the heaviest snowfall in five decades.
The big freeze has killed dozens of people, impacted on the lives of at least 80 million others and caused economic losses estimated at more than 53.8 billion yuan (US$7.5 billion).
The national meteorological center forecast red-alert-level snowstorms in the northern and central parts of Zhejiang today.
Sleet is today set to hit major parts of Guizhou Province, and southern regions of Hunan and central Jiangxi – three areas where icy weather has seriously disrupted power supplies. Fujian Province in the east can also expect sleet, weather experts said.
Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday made a second trip to Changsha, capital of Hunan, within a week to help direct emergency work. Wen visited railways in Changsha and Guangzhou on Monday and Wednesday in an effort to calm stranded passengers. After several days of respite from the heavy snow, traffic along the expressway linking Beijing and Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, began to pick up speed after ice was removed.
More and more trains also resumed operations on the Beijing-Guangzhou railway. The north-south trunk line had been paralyzed since last Saturday from the Hunan section southward where power-transmission facilities were knocked out by heavy snow.
Guangzhou, home to millions of migrant workers seeking to go home for the holidays, has been the worst affected.
The number of stranded people in Guangzhou yesterday dropped to 400,000 from a peak of 800,000.
The cold weather is China’s worst since 1954.
Between January 25 and Thursday, a total of 5.8 million passengers were stranded throughout the railway system, said Zhao Chunlei, deputy director of the Regulation Department of the Ministry of Railways.
So far at least 60 people have been killed and nearly 1.76 million have been relocated.