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Nearly 1 Mln Police Work to Ease Traffic Chaos in Snow

Nearly one million police have been dispatched to keep traffic in order on China's congested highways and bridges since heavy snow hit the country earlier this month.

Speaking in Beijing on Tuesday, Wu Heping, Chinese Ministry of Public Security spokesman, said more than 992,000 police have been working around the clock as surveillance and regulation on traffic had been stepped up.

The snow, the heaviest in a decade in many places, has been falling in China's east, central and southern regions since January 10, causing death, structural collapses, power blackouts, highway closures and crop destruction.

"The ministry has been exchanging information on weather and traffic with meteorological administrations around the country in a timely manner to keep traffic in order," Wu said.

Police have also patrolled more frequently and collaborated with transport departments to scatter sand and salt and in directing traffic flow on icy roads.

About 11,000 vehicles were piled up on freeways in eastern Anhui Province where half of the state and provincial highways were crippled by the snow. More than 8,000 traffic police were dispatched to the scene to keep order on a 40 kilometer congested stretch of highway.

Elsewhere, the Hunan Public Security Bureau has sent daily text warnings to the province's more than one million drivers providing information on road conditions around the clock.

At present, the ministry had allocated a total of 4.6 million yuan (US$639,000) to Guizhou, Anhui, Hunan, Henan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces to subsidize police working on the front line.

Heavy snow has killed 24 and affected 77.86 million people in 14 provinces, including Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan, by 2 PM on Monday. The China Meteorological Administration issued a red alert early that day for severe snowstorms in the central and eastern parts of the country.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2008)

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