The Chinese government has deployed almost half a million troops to help people affected by the worst winter weather in decades.
Severe snow has hit central and eastern China, paralysing transport networks ahead of the busiest holiday season.
Some areas are also experiencing food and power shortages, with deliveries of coal and other commodities delayed.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has been visiting travellers in affected regions.
On Wednesday he went to the main station in Guangzhou, where hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting, and issued a fresh apology.
"This has been very hard on everyone," he told the crowd.
"Currently every level of government is working on getting electricity restored, after that transport will resume."
On Tuesday, China's Politburo met to discuss the severe weather.
It issued a statement calling on local authorities to increase relief efforts and ensure a supply of coal to power stations.
The snowstorms, which began on 10 January, are the worst for half a century and have affected nearly 80 million people across 14 provinces.
The central provinces of Hunan and Hubei have been hardest hit, but eastern provinces are also affected.
Houses and agricultural land have been destroyed and at least 50 people killed, 25 of whom died when their bus slid off an icy road in Guizhou.
With the snow set to continue, the government has ordered 158,000 soldiers and 303,000 paramilitary officers to help those affected by food or power shortages.
The army has also sent 419,000 quilts and 219,000 padded coats to the worst-hit areas, Xinhua news agency said.
Almost one million police have also been sent to control traffic on congested highways.
Forecasters expect more snow to hit southern China
The snow has blocked roads and railway lines just as millions of travellers are trying to return home for the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on 7 February.
Enormous crowds have gathered at stations, but railway authorities in several cities had stopped selling tickets, Xinhua said.
In Guangzhou, where up to half a million people were reported to be stranded at one point, travellers described grim scenes.
The main station was besieged by "countless thousands of desperate and freezing people" too scared to leave in case they lost their chance to travel, witness Paul Surtees told the BBC from the city.
In an open letter, the government urged migrant workers in the city to abandon plans to travel, Xinhua said.
Some airports in the region have now been reopened and trains are beginning to run, it said.
But officials are warning that more bad weather could trigger further problems.