2007-12-26 02:49:03 Xinhua English
URUMQI, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Heavy snow in northwest China forced the closure of a major airport on Wednesday, disrupting the travel of more than 1,000 people
Urumqi International Airport in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was closed around 11 a.m. when snow on the runways made takeoff impossible, airport official Wang Chengwei said.
More than 40 flights were canceled because of the snow that had started to fall on Tuesday.
Wang said the airport was expected to reopen around 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Some places in Urumqi reported a maximum snowfall of 20 centimeters with a temperature decrease of about 10 degrees Celsius.
At the Alataw Pass on the China-Kazakhstan border, China's second largest land port, the heavy snowfall trapped 16 students on their way to school. They were saved by local policemen who searched the region for three hours before finding them.
"I haven't seen such a heavy snowfall since 1994," said Gan Yongsheng, a chief officer at the port. "Visibility on the roads was reduced to less than two meters."