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January 5, 2010

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Passengers free after icy ordeal

ARMED Police officers yesterday completed an overnight effort to free a train and assist passengers stranded in snow in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Rescuers had evacuated all 1,400 passengers and crew members aboard the No. 1814 train trapped 18 kilometers to the west of Shangdu Railway Station on Sunday night when it was heading to Baotou in Inner Mongolia from Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, China National Radio said yesterday.

They were now in local hostels where their accommodation was guaranteed, said Tian Yu, an officer from the fire-control regiment of Inner Mongolia's Ulanqab area.

"The train has been towed and the track ahead was restored to service about 5:10pm," Tian said.

At one stage both the No. 1814 train and two railcars joining rescue work were stranded in the snowstorm. The No. 1814 train even had its doors sealed by snow and ice, the report said.

The K502 train from Inner Mongolia's capital of Hohhot to Tongliao City in the east of the autonomous region was trapped 3km away from Penhong Station two hours after it set off at noon on Sunday.

Chief conductor Wang Yan told China National Radio yesterday afternoon that the train, with 642 passengers and crew members aboard, was stranded because heavy snow blocked the railway 28km ahead.

They had no idea about the ongoing rescue work but had enough food to last them for two days and the air-conditioning system was still functioning, Wang said.

Other trains were also stranded in snow, including the K89 from Beijing, the 1813 from Harbin to Baotou, the K504 from Tongliao to Hohhot and the 1820 from Ulanhot to Hohhot.

The K4 international train from Moscow to Beijing was stranded at Erlian Station. Thirteen passenger trains under control of the Hohhot Railway Administration were delayed or stranded.


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