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November 12, 2009

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Snowfall causes wide havoc

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

Meteorological officials said the city recorded 7.44 centimeters of snow in the 24 hours until 6am yesterday, with accumulated snow 48cm thick in most areas.

It was the heaviest snowfall in the city since 1955 when the city began to keep meteorological records.

There was little traffic on roads in the city, and pedestrians struggled through knee-high snow. The Education Department of the city government issued a notice on Tuesday night, asking all middle and primary schools in the city to suspend classes.

Twenty-four flights were canceled, 21 delayed and only three arrived at Shijiazhuang Airport as of last night.

The local sections of six expressways traversing the provincial capital were closed, said transport authorities.

One person was killed, 68 vegetable greenhouses collapsed and more than 20 warehouses and factory buildings collapsed due to the snow in Shijiazhuang, according to a government press conference yesterday.

Snow also hit Beijing and Tianjin cities, Shanxi Province and the Ningxia and Xinjiang autonomous regions on Tuesday.

Congestion was reported on roads in Shanxi Province's Datong, Shuozhou, Yangquan, Jinzhong and Changzhi, police said. On an 80-kilometer section of the highway from Xingxian County to Jingle County in Shanxi, more than 3,500 vehicles were stranded by snow overnight on Tuesday.

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

Flights resumed at 9am yesterday after snow-blowing machines cleared runways.

The Taiyuan Education Bureau issued a notice yesterday afternoon, asking all the schools and kindergartens in the city to suspend classes today and tomorrow as heavy snow is still hitting the city.

The snow drove most long-distance passengers to the railway station in Taiyuan, where a record 160,000 people are expected to travel today.

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

In Henan Province, all highways were still closed at 5pm yesterday after heavy snow hit the area.


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