Harsh weather clogs roads in parts of southern China

Freezing rain has pummeled parts of southern China in the past few days.

Harsh weather clogs roads in parts of southern China

Freezing rain has pummeled parts of southern China in the past few days, paralysing traffic and straining power networks in some areas ahead of the vast migrations of people for the Lunar New Year holiday next month.

Temperatures in southern and southwestern provinces and regions including Guangxi, Guizhou and Hunan stayed below freezing on Tuesday morning, 3 to 5 degrees Celsius lower than the average for this time of year, according to news reports.

The icy weather and sleet have clogged highways in the past few days, especially in Guizhou and Hunan, with thousands of trucks, cars and buses paralysed by slippery conditions. Many flights from regional airports have also been delayed.

"The priority at present is to evacuate all stranded vehicles on the road before more sleet hits the region on Tuesday," the China Daily cited Huang Ming, a vice minister of public security, as saying.

In early 2008, freezing weather across southern China, where winter is usually relatively mild, caused power cuts and transport chaos, preventing many residents from spending the Lunar New Year with their families. The disruption rippled across the region, causing a brief spike in food prices.

So far, the harsh weather has not brought such mayhem, but the authorities are worried about inflation and power cuts and have been trying to avoid a repeat, especially ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday on Feb. 3.

Up to now, icy roads have led to fatalities in traffic accidents in the provinces of Jiangxi, Guizhou and Chongqing, according to a Chinese weather website ( www.weather.com.cn ).

The cold snap has strained supplies of electricity, gas and water supplies, with pipes bursting in Chongqing. In 2009, iced-up power lines collapsed, sparking wider disruption.

On Tuesday, traffic slowly returned to normal in Guizhou, one of the hardest hit regions, after highways closed temporarily, leaving thousands of vehicles and people stranded.

But freezing rain was forecast for Chongqing, Guizhou and Hunan in the week ahead, and dangerous road conditions were expected to persist, state media said.

In Guangxi, a major sugar producing region, the next 10 days would be cold and rainy, but there was unlikely to be a repeat of the 2008 freeze, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the local weather bureau.


Reuters

Last Mod: 04 Ocak 2011, 12:07
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