Freeze strands Guangzhou thousands

China | 3 Feb 2016

Tens of thousands of Lunar New Year travelers were stranded at a station in Guangzhou after snow and ice elsewhere disrupted the world's largest annual human migration.

Many trains to the Guangdong capital were delayed after north and central China were hit by the big freeze, resulting in there being no transport for those waiting to leave.

The numbers stuck at two of the city's main stations, Guangzhou and Guangzhou East, totaled nearly 100,000 on Monday afternoon, prompting the mobilization of almost 4,000 police and security guards to maintain order.

By lunchtime yesterday Guangzhou station and its surroundings were still packed with more than 50,000 anxious travelers as 24 trains were behind schedule, Xinhua News Agency reported.

As the nation's manufacturing powerhouse, Guangdong is an important hub for the vast numbers of migrant workers who leave their homes in the countryside to labor in factories.

Many only return home once a year, when tradition dictates that all family members must gather before midnight on the eve of the Lunar New Year which falls on February 8 this time.

The phenomenon puts huge pressure on China's transport infrastructure. It is estimated 2.91 billion trips will be taken over the holiday's 40-day travel season.

Much of China was struck by a teeth-chattering cold snap late last month that broke decades-old records, with snow falling in some areas for the first time in years.

The freeze also delayed 55 trains at a station in Shanghai, forcing around 30,000 travelers to wait for hours on Monday.

Guangzhou police warned of more train transport chaos to come as the bad weather is expected to continue.

Passengers are urged not to go to railway stations too far ahead of scheduled departure times.


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