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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 12:48 GMT
Travellers describe China chaos
The heaviest snow in decades is continuing to cause transport chaos throughout China ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. BBC News website readers have described their experiences of travelling across southern China.


It is estimated that 500,000 people are stranded in the southern city of Guangzhou as they wait for train services to resume. Paul Surtees was among the crowds on Monday.

The railway stations in Guangzhou are a scene of horror, with countless thousands of desperate and freezing people besieging them.

Crowds wait in the rain outside Guangzhou rail station
Conditions are freezing cold in Guangzhou as people wait for trains
Guangzhou is a place of vast numbers of migrant workers. They saved up for the whole year to afford a third-class ticket to their home province for the holiday and they can't get anywhere near the station.

As you approach Guangzhou's main station, people are standing shoulder-to-shoulder trying to get into the station. The plastic marquees put up outside by authorities do little to keep people warm in freezing conditions.

Those people inside the station daren't leave for fear of losing their chance to travel. But trains aren't going. So people are literally living there and have been for days. Whole families have camped out there setting out newspapers on the floor and settling down. The huge expanse of the station concourse is a sea of bodies.

There are only a dozen toilets, so people relieve themselves on the station concourse. I saw human faeces. The amount of mess is indescribable.

There aren't many customer service people outside the station, only those people dealing with the trains. They have now brought the police and army in as crowd control

They have set up barricades to control access to the station.

While I was in Guangzhou East station a train did start to let on passengers. They opened one arm of the barricade and within seconds it was swept away and the soldiers on the floor as a sea of people surged through.

I was lucky to be going in the right direction, from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. To get into my station I had to speak to an officer of the Chinese army and I was lifted over the barricade.

It's like something from a war film.


Sean Clinton has been stuck in Changsha, Hunan province, for days as poor weather has defeated all attempts to travel further than the next town.

We've been in Changsha for about nine days. When we got here it was bitterly cold with major power outages in the industrial area. All the highways were closed because they were iced over and there were many car accidents.

Woman selling supplies to lorries stuck on Linzhu highway

We stayed for four days waiting for the power to return. Our hotel lost water and heat - so it ran a cable across the street to steal power from another building.

We tried to get to the airport which is normally a 45 minute ride but it took us three hours and on the way we were in a car accident. We were in the airport for more than 15 hours with no planes taking off and no news as to whether we would ever take off.

At the train station we found people had been waiting for four days. After a six-hour wait on the station a train bound for Guangzhou finally pulled in. We waited on the train for another six hours and it never moved. Eventually it went on its way and reached Zhuzhou.

When we got there the phone calls started filtering in saying trains were stuck for days in Guangzhou. We had no way out so we stayed overnight in a hotel and begged, borrowed, stole our way back to Changsha in a taxi.

So we're back in Changsha now and just waiting out the cold. About half the stores don't have power here but people seem to be going about their daily lives.

We hear an airline might be opening up soon. Who knows where that will lead?


On his way back to Hong Kong, Devon Bovenlander spoke to some of those camping out in Guangzhou.

Thank God I'm back in Hong Kong. I got back last night and it was chaos.

In Guangzhou there were people sleeping everywhere - all around the train stations, shopping centres, taxi ranks, bus stations. They are basically setting up shop wherever they can. People were sleeping on stairs. Some have been there for two, three nights already.

Luckily it is not as cold in Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen as it is in other parts of China.

I talked to some of those camped out and they had been there for a two nights. They seemed in fairly good spirits although the nights get quite cold.

The riot police were there in case trouble broke out. The people waiting are the factory workers going home to their local villages. They have access to food and are just waiting it out.

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