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China Economics

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. Millions of people trying to head home for the Spring Festival are stranded. 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)…

Tens of thousands queue to enter the main railway station in Guangzhou City yesterday.
Tens of thousands queue to enter the main railway station
in Guangzhou City yesterday

credits: Shanghai Daily

Heavy white storms staged a comeback late yesterday as China’s transport network remained crippled by the heaviest snowfall in five decades.

Millions of people trying to head home for the Spring Festival are stranded.

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).

Snow began to hit central Hunan Province and eastern Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces yesterday afternoon.

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.

By Itamar Medeiros

I'm a Strategist, Branding Specialist, Experience Designer, Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator based in Germany, where I work as Director of Design Strategy and Systems at SAP and visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, I've helped truly global companies in several countries (Brazil, China, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, The United Arab Emirates, United States, Hong Kong) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles.

During my 7 years in China, I've promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

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