Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Heavy snow brings Beijing to a halt

Policeman at Tiananmen Gate 3.1.10
Beijing has suffered heavier snowfalls than usual this winter

Heavy snow has blanketed the Chinese capital Beijing, closing major roads and stranding air travellers.

Several centimetres of snow covered the city centre early on Sunday and forecasters warned of temperatures down to -14C (6.8F) in the next few days.

At Beijing Capital International Airport, 120 flights had been delayed and 86 cancelled by Sunday morning, the airport's information centre said.

Snow is also affecting other areas of northern and north-eastern China.

The port of Tianjin, Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Hebei and Shandong are worst affected, meteorologists say.

Air China announced it was cancelling all domestic flights out of Beijing after 1700 local time (0900 GMT) on Sunday.

Traffic in many parts of Beijing ground to a halt as the heavy snow carpeted major roads.

State television said most highways out of the city were closed.

The city's meteorological bureau upgraded a snowstorm alert from blue to yellow on Sunday, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

"The yellow alert means that the snowfall is going to turn heavier... in the next 12 hours," Guo Hu, the bureau chief, was quoted as saying.

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