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Temporary Respite in Snow-inflicted Traffic Chaos

China's transportation system, which has been paralyzed by the worst snowy weather in half a century, glimpsed an encouraging sign on Sunday with the reports of less cancelled flights and more resumed trains and buses.

There was a notable drop in the number of flights being cancelled on Sunday in east China, according to local sources.

An official from East China Branch of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China said there were still plenty of flight delays, but cancellations on Sunday were fewer than those on Saturday.

Between 2:00 PM Saturday to 2:00 PM Sunday, for instance, among 2,338 scheduled flights at airports in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi and Shanghai, 1,022 were delayed, but only 261 were cancelled.

In the meantime, more trains were resumed and highways reopened in the region.

Shanghai Railway Station transported 795,000 passengers on Saturday alone, a record high. It was estimated that about 110,000 passengers left Shanghai by road on Sunday.

The snow, the heaviest in decades in many places, has been falling in China's eastern, central and southern regions for about three weeks. It has caused deaths, structural collapses, blackouts, accidents, transport problems and livestock and crop destruction.

The snow havoc has hit 19 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, toppled 223,000 houses and damaged another 862,000, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The ministry said that nearly 7.8 million people had been affected and at least 60 people had been killed in the snow-triggered disasters.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China has, so far, deployed 306,000 soldiers to combat the worst winter storm in five decades.

About 1.07 million militia and army reservists were also participating in the relief efforts.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)

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