More snow looms for China amid transport crunch
BEIJING (Reuters) - More snowy weather was forecast for parts of China on Monday, threatening to snarl transport at the height of holiday travel and hampering the country's efforts to return to normality after its worst winter in decades.
China is expected to see railway traffic peak on Tuesday, the last day of Spring Festival, as the Lunar New Year holiday is known, when millions head back to work from their villages.
"Post-Spring Festival railway traffic peak saw more than 5 million passengers in one day last year and we expect more in 2008," Xinhua news agency quoted the Railways Ministry as saying.
The travel crunch comes as China's transport systems are only just creaking back to life after freak cold and ice storms hit swathes of the country, causing billions of dollars in damage and killing at least 80 people.
"The overall transport situation is still relatively grim, especially problems of capacity and demand emerging in railway transport," the State Council's command centre for dealing with the disaster said in a statement.
"All regions and all government departments concerned must pay high attention to the work of post-holiday transport," said the statement, posted on the government's Web site (http://www.gov.cn).
Sleet and snow was forecast for the already hard-hit southwestern province of Guizhou, the country's meteorological centre said, calling for authorities to make preparations to deal with traffic and public safety.
Heavy snow could also hit the far-western provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan, as well as Tibet, in the next few days.
In most of the country, transport, power generation and food supplies were back to normal by the weekend after weeks of the unusually harsh winter weather.
(Reporting by Lindsay Beck; Editing by Alex Richardson)