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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 15:26 GMT
Snow hampers China New Year plans
Soldiers clear snow in Wuhan, Hubei Province, 26 January, 2008
Chinese officials have been ordered to 'battle against disaster'
Chinese authorities have ordered urgent measures to be put in place to fight nationwide transport chaos caused by severe weather conditions.

Ice and snowfall caused power cuts that left 100,000 people stranded at train stations in southern China on Sunday.

Forecasters predict the bad weather will continue for a week, causing travel misery in the run-up to the Lunar New Year holiday on 7 February.

Nearly 18 million people are due to visit relatives during the period.

'Battle against disaster'

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the weather was threatening lives and disrupting supplies of fresh food, oil and gas ahead of the New Year, and he warned worse could come.

Urgently mobilise and work as one to wage this tough battle against disaster
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

"Urgently mobilise and work as one to wage this tough battle against disaster," he told officials, according to a transcript on the official government website.

"Ensure that the people enjoy a joyful and auspicious Spring Festival."

Brutal conditions in recent days have collapsed homes, snapped power lines and destroyed crops across the country.

Parts of China have suffered their worst snowfalls in more than a decade.

In the southern town of Guangzhou, more than 100,000 people have been stranded at the main railway station as power cuts paralysed services.

Many of those stranded were rural migrant workers returning home for the traditional New Year celebrations.

Busiest period

Their number is expected to swell to as many as 600,000 on Monday as China gears up for its busiest period for family gatherings.

Travellers crowd the ticket windows at a Beijing railway station, 26 January 2008
Severe weather has left many Chinese stranded at railway stations

Guangzhou's authorities are arranging temporary shelters in schools and other public buildings for passengers stuck at the station.

China's railway authority has dispatched around 10,000kg (22,046lb) of rice, vegetables and meat, as well as 20,000 boxes of instant noodles and drinking water, to relieve those stuck on board stranded trains.

Motorways as well as railways have been brought to a standstill, especially in the country's east.

Several regional airports have been closed, and 17 of the country's 31 provinces are enduring reduced power supplies.



SEE ALSO
Severe snow hits central China
22 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Yangtze hit by drought in China
17 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Warming fears for China ice show
09 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: China
30 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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