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. China braces for Lunar New Year return traffic

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 10, 2008
China braced Sunday as millions prepared to travel home after the Lunar New Year holiday, with fingers crossed the winter weather would not cause a repeat of the traffic nightmare of recent weeks.

Government transportation authorities predicted the roads and rails would be most clogged on Monday, towards the end of the week-long holiday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Wednesday is the first day back at work for most Chinese, and to prepare for the looming travel chaos, the railway ministry had arranged for 226 special trains between key traffic hubs, the report said.

China's transportation network has been placed under massive strain for the Lunar New Year holiday this year as large parts of the country have been hit by the worst snow and cold in five decades.

The inclement weather hit at the worst possible time as huge numbers of travellers were heading home for the Lunar New Year, the most important festival of the calendar here.

Crucial sections of China's sprawling road and rail networks were closed down, stranding hundreds of thousands of homesick travellers at train stations and bus depots in major cities.

On Sunday, nine people were killed in southwestern Guizhou province -- one of the areas hardest hit in recent weeks -- when their bus veered off the road in heavy sleet that had made roads icy, Xinhua said.

The Guizhou meteorological service predicted that the sleet would continue overnight into Monday, Xinhua said.

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China telecom industry faces huge bill after snow: state media
Beijing (AFP) Feb 10, 2008
China's telecom industry faces a huge bill after the worst winter in decades, with millions of users cut off and thousands of kilometres of phone lines damaged, state media said Sunday.

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