China Snow From Xinjiang to Sea Snarls Biggest Migration

China Snowfalls Hamper Biggest Human Migration for New Year
Passengers wait to board trains at the Hongqiao Train Station in Shanghai on Jan. 19, 2012. The week-long Lunar New Year holiday kicks off on Jan. 23. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Snow and freezing rain continued to fall in parts of China today, disrupting travel as the first day of the Lunar New Year spurs the world’s biggest annual human migration.

Snow will fall in areas south of the Yangtze River in provinces including Shaanxi, Gansu, and Henan, tapering off today, the China Meteorological Administration reported on its website. Freezing rain continued in southern Guizhou province, and yesterday travel was disrupted in Shaanxi and Hubei as well as Chongqing Municipality, the agency reported.

The Ministry of Railways added 289 more trains yesterday to accommodate passengers who were forced by the weather to seek alternatives to road travel, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. From Jan. 8 through yesterday, China’s trains carried 80.2 million passengers, up 7.7 percent from a year earlier, Xinhua reported, citing the ministry.

Almost 84 million people traveled by road on Jan. 21, a record since the festival travel season began, a separate Xinhua article said, citing the Ministry of Transport.

Conditions were sunny in Beijing and Shanghai today, according to the meteorological office. Flights were departing as scheduled from Beijing Capital International Airport, Asia’s busiest, and Shanghai’s two airports, their websites showed.

People in China will make a total of 3.16 billion passenger trips during the Lunar New Year holiday rush period, which began Jan. 8 and will end in the middle of February, a 9.1 percent increase from 2011, Xinhua reported.

Cold Front

A cold front will cause temperatures to fall in most of the country through tomorrow, with temperatures in northeastern China reaching as low as minus-30 degrees Celsius (minus-22 Fahrenheit), Xinhua reported yesterday.

In Shanxi, a province to the west of Beijing, a bus collided with a car on Jan. 21, killing seven people on board, after snowfalls on Jan. 20 blanketed most of the province and forced the closure of a dozen highways. As of noon on Jan. 21, the majority of the closed routes had been opened, Xinhua said, citing He Jianzhong, spokesman for the Ministry of Transport.

In Xinjiang, 448 people and 80 vehicles were stranded on a highway late on Jan. 21 in a sudden blizzard before being rescued early yesterday, Xinhua reported.

More than 1,100 people and more than 280 snowplows worked to clear the roads in Shanxi, Xinhua reported, citing the provincial highway management bureau.

— With assistance by James Regan, Michael Forsythe, and Paul Gordon

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