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Snowstorm disrupts traffic, causes blackout
Latest Updated by 2007-03-05 16:01:56

Residents walk in snow in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, on March 4, 2007. The strongest snowstorm in 56 years hit Liaoning, left at least one person dead and seven injured and caused air and highway traffic disturbed. (Xinhua Photo) 

A man clears snow around his car during a winter storm in in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, March 4, 2007. (Xinhua Photo)

A passerby walks in snow in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, on March 4, 2007. The strongest snowstorm in 56 years hit Liaoning, left at least one person dead and seven injured and caused air and highway traffic disturbed. (Xinhua Photo)

The heaviest March snowstorm to hit northeast China in 56 years disrupted air and road traffic and cut off power and water supplies in many parts of the coastal city of Dalian on Sunday.

Gusts of wind measuring up to 30 meters per second blacked out 11 of the 25 220-kv power supply stations in Dalian at 10:00 p.m. The power failure hit the suburban Lushunkou and Jinzhou districts, Wafangdian city and parts of the eastern and western urban areas, and subsequently cut off water supply and central heating in some urban areas.

Dalian Thermoelectricity Group, the city's largest central heating supplier, was forced to cut heating for 40 percent of its users at midnight, leaving thousands of urban families shivering as the mercury dropped to minus seven degrees Celsius.

"Repair work is expected to begin on Monday afternoon, when the wind will hopefully weaken to 17 meters per second," said Ma Yong'an, a spokesman with the power company, early on Monday.

But city authorities predicted they would need two to three days to remedy all the damages.

Dalian weather bureau reported 56 millimeters of rain from the blizzard that started on Saturday night and lasted until the small hours of Monday.

Rain and snow hit most parts of northeast China, measuring 36 millimeters in Liaoning's provincial capital Shenyang and 68 mm in Dandong, according to the Shenyang Meteorological Observatory.

The snow reached two meters high in some areas.

At least one person was confirmed dead and seven injured when the roof of a farm produce market in Shenyang collapsed under the weight of the snow and buried about 20 vendors and shoppers on Sunday.

More than 1,100 ramshackle homes collapsed in the high wind on Sunday in Liaoning Province and another 1,300 were damaged, a spokesman with the provincial civil affairs department said, adding the city government had arranged temporary lodging for these people.

Most vehicles in Shenyang were barred from the roads on Monday except those for public use to ensure the snow is cleared away.

In the central areas of Shenyang alone, more than 1,200 snow ploughs were mobilized on Sunday but were still unable to clean up the 75 trunk roads. The city government said it would have to rely on residents to clean up the snow on Monday.

Classes have been suspended for all the 900,000 primary and middle school students in Shenyang on Monday.

The snowstorm closed Taoxian International Airport in Shenyang at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. At least 1,000 passengers were stranded and 144 flights canceled. Authorities predict the airport will reopen at 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

Eleven expressways in Liaoning Province were closed on Sunday. Traffic on most busy urban streets were at a standstill until early Monday as many cars broke down in the snow and ice.

"I took a bus ride to Changchun on Sunday night. With the expressway closed and secondary roads blocked by snow drifts, the trip took more than five hours," said Yan Guangxin from Panshi city which is normally two hours away from Changchun, capital of neighboring Jilin Province.

Jilin had reported an average 17.6 mm of rain and snow by 2:00 a.m. Monday and the temperature is forecast to drop to minus 21 to minus 18 on Monday night. At least four cities have told students to stay home.

An ambulance that was rushing an unconscious 79-year-old to hospital in Changchun was stranded in the blizzard for six hours until 5:00 a.m. Monday. "Fortunately the patient received treatment on the way and is in a stable condition now," said Wang Dongxia, a doctor at the city's first-aid center.

In Heilongjiang Province further north, the precipitation reached its highest level in 56 years with 49 mm of snow in Dongning, 46 mm along the Suifen River and 41 mm in Jixi.

The blizzard continued in most parts of the province on Monday and is expected to weaken in the afternoon, said Gao Yuzhong, head of the provincial meteorological bureau.

Beijing also experienced rain and snow over the weekend and the temperature dropped back down to one degree Celsius.

The central meteorological observatory described the snow and rain as "unusual" for this time of the year and having hit most parts of the northeast, northwest and north China. The observatory has forecast more rain in some northern Chinese cities on Monday and Tuesday.

In an interview with Xinhua on Monday, a spokesman of the Ministry of Railways said the snowstorm had delayed 150 passenger trains, including trains between Harbin and Dalian, Beijing and Qinhuangdao, Qinhuangdao and Shenyang.

Most trains were disrupted by snow on the railway, some of which measured two meters, he said.

The railway authority is trying to resume traffic within 48 hours to meet the growing demand from holiday makers who need to return to work after the Lantern Festival on Sunday, traditionally considered the end of the Chinese New Year holidays.

Meteorologists said the rain and snow, the heaviest since winter, would help alleviate a severe drought which has plagued many parts of north China in the past few months.

Editor: Donald

By: Source:China View website
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