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July 6, 2013

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Storm causes flight cancellations

THOUSANDS of passengers were stranded at Shanghai's two airports yesterday after more than 100 flights were canceled and numerous others delayed because of thunderstorms that covered a large area of eastern China.

Hongqiao and Pudong international airports canceled all outbound domestic flights after 9pm as the storm started hovering over the city in the afternoon, the airport authority said.

More than 1,000 passengers were stranded at the Pudong airport because of the weather. More passengers were stuck at the Hongqiao airport, where the storm was even stronger.

Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines said at least 5,600 of its passengers were stranded after their flights were either canceled or delayed for more than four hours, said Yan Shuming, the carrier's manager-on-duty at Hongqiao airport.

Nearly all flights on the Shanghai-Beijing route, one of the busiest routes in the country, were canceled or delayed. Only three flights on the route departed before 3pm yesterday, while another two took off around 4pm.

"My flight, MU5105, to Beijing was scheduled to take off at 10am from Hongqiao but was delayed more than six hours," said Zhu Yan, a passenger who finally arrived in Beijing at around 6pm.

Zhu and other passengers boarded the plane about 10:45am but were asked to disembark around noon because the flight was unlikely to take off soon, she said.

Zhu said she considered taking a bullet train to the capital but all tickets were sold out, thus she had to wait out the flight delay.

The flight delays at Pudong and Hongqiao airports had a knock-on effect in other cities as some aircraft were scheduled for other flights upon arriving from Shanghai.

A thunderstorm belt that stretched more than 800 kilometers over east China cut off the flying routes between Shanghai and northern China cities, Yan said, adding that the storm may also delay some flights to north China today.


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