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June 23, 2012

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Police calm stranded travelers at Hongqiao airport

AIRLINE passengers upset at delays and cancellations affecting their holiday plans threw objects at airline ticket counters at Hongqiao International Airport on Thursday, forcing the airport to call in extra police to restore order.

Police said yesterday order had been restored at the airport, where nearly 1,000 travelers were stranded late Thursday.

While police said those passengers were finally able to catch flights at 9am yesterday, problems and delays continued at many airports nationwide as a result of widespread storms. Officials hope conditions will improve today, though rain may linger.

At Hongqiao airport, "it was total chaos with all the noise, and passengers threw stuff toward the airline counters," said Wang Zhongjun, whose scheduled flight to Beijing was canceled.

Wang took pictures at Hongqiao's Terminal 2 showing passengers surrounding a counter and broken chairs and other objects inside the counter. Police tried to keep order, witnesses said.

The travelers "got very angry" after they learned there would be no accommodation or ticket refunds for passengers stranded for more than 10 hours, said Wang. Extra police officers were called to restore order and persuade the passengers to stay calm. There were no arrests, police said.

Problems and delays for passengers continued yesterday as southern China was hit by storms.

More than 100 flights at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport suffered delays. The flights were expected to be gradually restored by late last night.

The number of passengers waiting for flights grew as the airport prioritized flights delayed since the night before.

As storms moved northward, Beijing authorities also reported delays.

Flights departing from Shanghai to cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen were canceled or delayed yesterday, said authorities at the Hongqiao airport.

The weather, however, did not stop city residents from trying to make out of town for the Dragon Boat Festival break.

The airport expected an increase of at least 10 to 15 percent in passenger volume during the holiday.


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