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Road, Rail Transport Returning to Normal

All road and rail transport is stable as millions of people return from their Spring Festival celebrations in the wake of the devastating snowstorms that have plagued large parts of the country, the disaster relief and emergency command center under the State Council said in a release on Sunday night.

"We have managed to ease access to transportation amid the snowy weather, and major highways and railways have resumed normal order," the center said in a daily brief.

By Sunday, the State Grid had restored the power supply to 22 million customers, or 92.7 percent of those affected.

Highway transportation, which was severely affected by the month-long snow disaster in many parts of the country, has also returned to normal. About 28 million people traveled on expressways and trunk roads on Sunday, up six million over the previous day.

However, some roads in Zhejiang and Yunnan provinces were still closed because of ice, and traffic flows were affected in Yunnan because of icy rain, the brief said.

Some 4,291 flights carrying 535,000 passengers took off on Sunday, 23,000 more than a day earlier.

Also, some 460,000 people and more than 5,000 vehicles dispatched by the China Southern Power Grid had contributed to the repair of 4,800 power transmission lines. In particular, 68.4 percent of the lines in the southwestern Guizhou Province are back in use.

As affected areas gradually recover, health departments have so far dispatched 155,600 medical professionals in a bid to prevent major public health incidents.

Nonetheless, land and meteorological authorities in Hunan, the hardest-hit province, have warned of a snow-induced secondary disaster.

In a joint statement, the provincial land and resources department and meteorological station released this year's first early warning of a geological disaster, while calling on residents to remain alert to potential geological abnormalities.

The snow is still 1-7 cm deep in most mountainous regions of Hunan. Collapses, landslides and debris flows may occur as it melts in the coming days, the statement said.

Small-scale secondary disasters are nothing new in some areas. On February 3, a gas station in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, collapsed because of heavy snow, leaving four dead and 16 injured. In the previous week, incidents involving residents falling to the ground while cleaning their roofs were common.

(China Daily / Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2008)

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