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Blizzard hits north China, paralyzes major cities

HEAVY snow blanketed Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, for a second day today and paralyzed all transport, including aviation and highway services, provincial authorities said today.

Meteorological officials said city recorded 74 mm of snow in the 24 hours till 6 am today, with the accumulated snow 48 mm thick in most areas.

It was the heaviest snow fall in the city since 1955 when the city began to make meteorological records.

Xinhua reporters saw no traffic on roads in the city, and pedestrians struggled through knee-high snow. All middle and primary schools were informed they could suspend classes if necessary.

All flights from and to the city have been canceled, and all local sections of the six expressways traversing the city, including the Beijing-Shijiazhuang, Zhangjiakou-Shijiazhuang,Shijiangzhuang-Huanghua, and Qingdao-Yinchuan expressways were closed, said transport authorities.

Light snow is continuing and heavier snow is expected late Wednesday, according to meteorologists. Snow was not so heavy in other parts of Hebei, they said.

Snow also hit Beijing and Tianjin cities, Shanxi province and Ningxia and Xinjiang autonomous regions yesterday.

Shanxi meteorological bureau said that from 8 a.m. Monday to 2 p.m. Tuesday, 10 mm of snow on average fell on 32 out of about 80 counties of the northern province.

Congestion was reported on roads in Datong, Shuozhou, Yangquan,Jinzhong and Changzhi, traffic police said. On an 80-km section of the highway from Xingxian county to Jingle County, more than 3,500vehicles were stranded by overnight yesterday, and their circumstances are still unknown.

Aviation officials said 116 flights to and from Taiyuan, the provincial capital, were canceled and more than 12,000 passengers were stranded yesterday.

Flights resumed at 9 am today, but heavy snow has fallen again since noon, and delays were expected again later in the day.

In Ningxia, traffic police said Wednesday at least two people were confirmed dead and 37 were injured in 155 reported road accidents caused by the snow yesterday.


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