Thousands stranded as snow returns to south China

Other News Materials 17 February 2008 13:27 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuter )- Almost 180,000 people have been stranded in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan by a return of snow and freezing weather which has blocked roads and caused blackouts, state media said on Sunday.

More than 14,000 km (8,700 miles) of roads have been affected and 20,000 vehicles are stuck, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"The provincial transport department has organized a repair working force to ensure smooth road travel, especially the transport of important equipment and materials," Xinhua said.

"However, the repairs were greatly hampered by the plateau climate, poor facilities and shortage of money. The workers do not even have special anti-freeze or snow removing facilities," it added.

Like much of southern and southwestern China, Yunnan had slowly been recovering from unseasonably cold, snowy weather which brought transport to a near standstill ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and left millions without power.

But snow returned to Yunnan on Thursday, Xinhua said.

The government is also struggling to bring the electricity grid back up in the eastern Yunnan city of Qujing.

China said earlier this week it aimed to complete repairs to power lines and restore normal power supply by the end of March.

Almost 90 percent of people who had experienced power cuts in large swathes of the country are now reconnected, with more than 14,000 damaged power lines repaired, Xinhua added.