Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - Page 4 News List

More bad weather forecast as Chinese return home

AFP , BEIJING

Millions of people braved China's overcrowded transport networks yesterday as they began the long trek back to work at the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, amid warnings of more bad weather.

Railway officials in the nation's three main transport hubs -- Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou -- said the number of passengers were to peak yesterday and today, the China Daily reported.

The two main train stations in the Chinese capital expected the number of incoming passengers -- mostly migrants returning to their dormitories -- would top 100,000 on both days, the paper said.

The railway ministry had added 226 special trains to accommodate one of the biggest movements of people anywhere in the world, but even so, tickets were sold out, the paper said.

The railways alone are expected to carry a record 178.6 million passengers during this year's 40-day travel season, up from 156 million last year, Xinhua said, citing the railway ministry.

The transport system has been under unprecedented strain not just because of the millions of extra passengers, but also because it has had to cope with the most ferocious winter weather in at least five decades.

Snowstorms and chilly temperatures froze key sections of the transport network just as great numbers of people were heading home for the holiday late last month and the beginning of this month, leaving millions stranded.

There were further warnings of more bad weather to come, exactly at the wrong time, at the start of the return travel rush. Today is the last day of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

Heavy snow and even blizzards were expected in the next three days in the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan in the west, while sleet and icy rain were possible in most parts of southwestern Guizhou Province.

A severe cold snap would affect northern China, resulting in light or moderate snow for parts of the Inner Mongolia region and Heilongjiang Province in the next two days, according to Xinhua.

Also see: Weather crisis cranks up the rickety Chinese mining machine

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