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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 February 2008, 05:24 GMT
Frustration as China grinds to a halt
By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Guangzhou, China

Girls waiting at Guangzhou station 1/2/08
Many passengers have been waiting at Guangzhou station for days

There have been chaotic scenes at Guangzhou railway station in southern China as hundreds of thousands of people delayed by the some of the worst snow storms in 50 years, try to get home to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The government has drafted in nearly 20,000 extra police and soldiers to keep order, but at times they could not hold the crowds back.

The people surged forward, some falling to the ground, others fainting in the crush.

They were lifted out by police officers and given medical attention.


Many people have been waiting here for days.

"I have been sleeping outside, under this flyover," Miss Ding told me. She said she had tickets, but so far there have been no trains.

A few trains are now running, but for each one there is a mad dash as people scramble to get on board.

Mr Liao told me he was hoping to go back to the central province of Hunan. "I've been here for two days now," he said.

Mr Liao 1/2/08
Mr Liao says he has been sleeping on the ground
When I asked him where he slept, he pointed to the ground - "right here".

The people here are like millions right across China, stranded by the snow that has paralysed much of the country.

Guangzhou is in the booming province of Guangdong. It is a city full of migrants. They have all come here chasing the China dream - a job, money, and, hopefully, one day a better life.

The Lunar New Year is traditionally the only holiday they will get all year. Many are desperate to get back home to spend that time with their families.

Government on trial

China has been hit by some of the worst snow storms in more than 50 years.

Miss Ding
Miss Ding has been unable to use her tickets

Road and rail links have been blocked, airports shut downs.

There have been power cuts and shortages of food and water in many areas. There are unconfirmed reports that one city in the central province of Hunan has been without electricity or water for eight days.

The damages run into billions of dollars and the figure keeps on rising. For the government, however, it is about much more than money - Beijing's credibility is at stake.

The premier, Wen Jiabao, has criss-crossed the country visiting the worst affected areas.

Beijing has deployed nearly half a million soldiers to clear the snow and promised massive amounts of financial aid, but more than 100 million people have been affected and more snow is forecast.

The country still is not back to normal and people are beginning to question the government's ability to deal with this crisis.

For China, 2008 was supposed to be all about the Olympics. This is not the start to the year that either Beijing or those hundreds of thousands of stranded travellers were hoping for.

Stampede at railway station

Transport chaos in snow-hit China
29 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
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28 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: China weather chaos
28 Jan 08 |  In Pictures
Snow hampers China New Year plans
27 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
China in power shortage warning
23 Jan 08 |  Europe
Severe snow hits central China
22 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: China
30 Nov 07 |  Country profiles


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