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Transport Resumes in Frozen S China

Rail, highway and air transport paralyzed by freezing weather in south China are recovering gradually ahead of the Lunar New Year, but millions of people are still suffering the cold and dark.

The number of stranded passengers at the railway station in southern city of Guangzhou had dropped by 12,000 to 80,000 by late Monday, the emergency command center under the State Council, China's Cabinet, said in a statement.

Guangzhou, with one of the biggest concentrations of the country's 200 million migrant farmer workers, is the terminal of a north-south trunk railway line linking the city with Beijing.

Railway authorities have promised that all passengers who have bought tickets could board trains despite days of delays.

Meanwhile, a major north-south trunk road, the Beijing-Zhuhai expressway, has fully reopened after de-icing work by 1,200 troops and armed police over the past week.

Almost all the airports in snow-affected regions have resumed operations, though heavy fog forced 47 flights to be cancelled and 1,006 flights delayed in the eastern cities of Hangzhou, Nanjing and Changzhou on Monday, leaving 29,000 passengers stranded.

Meanwhile, Chenzhou, a city of about four million in the central Hunan Province, began its 11th day of power blackouts and water cuts on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of workers are struggling to repair damaged power lines to restore the city's power supply in time for the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, that falls on Thursday.

The snow has been falling in China's eastern, central and southern regions since mid-January, leading to deaths, structural collapses, blackouts, accidents, transport problems and livestock and crop losses in 19 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

More than 100 million people have been affected, and at least 60 people have died in the freezing weather.

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2008)

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