Tue, December 23, 2008
China > Mainland > Snowstorm chaos in China

Icy weather sweeps nation, strand travelers

2008-12-05 01:40:04 GMT2008-12-05 09:40:04 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Building materials are seen scattered on trees and the street caused by strong winds in Jincheng city of Shanxi Province, Dec 4, 2008. (CFP/Yuan Wenzhong)

A man breaks the ice on the steps of a store in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, Dec 4, 2008. (CFP/Xiao Fan)

A baby receive anti-flu treatment in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Thursday. The number of people suffering from flu has increased sharply as an intense cold front sweeps through most parts of the country. [China Daily]

Thousands of people were left stranded across the country Thursday, as freezing weather played havoc on the nation's roads and disrupted operations at docks and airports.

In Shanghai, about 2,000 people were left with nowhere to go as more than half of the city's ferry services were halted due to high winds at sea.

At the port of Wusong, 24 of the 40 ferries scheduled to leave yesterday morning were cancelled, and operations were suspended completely at

4:30 pm, port coordinator Jia Guanghao told China Daily.

International cargo services, however, were unaffected, he said.

A cold front from western Serbia has been sweeping through China since early this week, bringing with it icy temperatures, snowstorms and howling winds.

In Shanghai, the mercury fell to 10 C Thursday, and is forecast to fall to zero on Saturday, making it the coldest day of the winter so far, the local meteorological bureau said.

The cold front also took its toll on shipping in the Bohai Sea Thursday.

Sun Houchang, boss of the Dalian Ocean Fishery Corp, which operates cargo ships and ferries between Liaoning and Shandong, said the recent weather was the worst he had seen for many years.

"This morning, I woke up and saw cars and passengers stranded at the harbor, and two of our ferries sitting idle in the port. Another three of our ships were stranded at Tantai port.

"What's worse is that the forecasters have said the wind is unlikely to drop until late Friday, and that will cost us," he said.

High winds at the north end of the Bohai Sea caused waves of up to 6 m Thursday afternoon, officials said, while ferries from Dalian to parts of Shandong have been suspended for more than a day.

At the southern end, the Yantai sea transport authority Thursday issued a "Code Red", its most severe weather warning.

More than 160 ships were forced to remain in harbor Thursday, and only seven large cargo ships remain at sea, it said.

Meanwhile, China's inland regions have been experiencing problems of their own as the freezing weather continues to bite.

In Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the public transport system was stretched almost to breaking point Thursday, as temperatures plummeted to almost minus 30 C and many of the city's highways remained closed.

Meanwhile, in Shenyang, the city's international airport was forced to suspend flights for more than eight hours Thursday. The bad weather has also been proving hazardous to people's health.

An official from a hospital in Changchun, Jilin province, said patient numbers have risen 10 percent this week, with many people suffering broken bones after falling on icy pavements.

But the cold snap has not been bad news for everyone.

In Shenyang, the boss of the Dongbeiya Skiing Club, surnamed Zhao, said her business was booming, with huge numbers of people turning up for some fun in the snow.

The national meteorological center said Thursday that the low temperatures will continue for three to five days.

With the cold front expected to reach southern parts of China today, authorities in Hunan, Fujian and Sichuan have issued weather warnings, with people in Hunan being informed of the impending freeze by text message.

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