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China warns of more snow during holiday period

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 15, 2010
Snow was expected to sweep across large swathes of China's north, forecasters said on Monday, possibly disrupting festivities during the most important holiday of the year.

The Chinese are currently in the midst of Spring Festival, a week-long holiday marking the beginning of the new year which sees families around the country of 1.3 billion reunite and attend traditional temple fairs.

Every year, the event triggers an exodus believed to be the world's largest annual human migration as hundreds of millions rush to get home, sometimes for the first time in months, so any poor weather can lead to travel chaos.

China's Meteorological Administration predicted snow would fall on Monday in the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, spreading eastwards to the northern province of Shaanxi.

According to the agency, northern parts of China had already been hit by freezing weather and strong winds in recent days, while southern areas had also experienced significant snow and rain.

In 2008, a massive cold wave and freezing rain hit southern and central China, crippling transport systems and stranding millions just as the travel rush got under way.

But a spokesman for the railways ministry said that so far this year there had been no major travel hiccups or large numbers of people stranded due to poor weather, the state Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.

More than 70 million people travelled by train in the first 16 days of the New Year period, which officially began on January 30, the report said.

A total of around 210 million passengers are expected to take trains during that period, which ends on March 10. Nearly 30 million more will travel by air.

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