Snow Forecasts Threaten Chinese Lunar New Year Travel Plans

Forecasts of snow and rain across China threaten to disrupt the travel plans of millions of Chinese heading home for the Lunar New Year holidays that start Feb. 9, the national weather agency warned today.

Snow is expected in northeastern provinces this week with snow and sleet in western Xinjiang and parts of central China, the agency said in an e-mailed report. The nation’s rail network was due to carry 5.86 million holiday travelers today, the Railways Ministry said on its website.

Rain and snow will have an adverse impact on the peak period, the China Meteorological Administration said, warning of slippery conditions for road travel. The 2012 Lunar New Year period generated more than 3 billion passenger trips by Chinese, the official Xinhua News Agency reported last year.

Five road accidents killed a total of 58 people in the past two days, including two involving overloaded vehicles that veered off the roads, Xinhua reported. Twelve people died when a coach designed for 19 passengers and carrying 34 overturned and crashed in Guizhou province yesterday, Xinhua said.

Eighty-six flights were canceled and 162 delayed at the Beijing Capital International Airport as of 1:50 p.m. today, with snow continuing into the evening expected to further affect operations, according to the airport’s website.

Authorities canceled or planned alternative routes for 13 coach lines today, mainly those leaving Beijing via mountain roads, Xinhua said in a separate report.

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