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China welcomes Year of the Tiger

Firecrackers echoed through the streets in Shanghai today as Chinese braved the rain and cold to line up outside temples to usher in the Year of the Tiger by praying for good fortune.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2010 15:03 IST

Firecrackers echoed through the streets in Shanghai on Sunday as Chinese braved the rain and cold to line up outside temples to usher in the Year of the Tiger by praying for good fortune.

Snow covered rooftops in China's biggest city as a cold front swept over the country at the start of the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year, the nation's most important holiday.

"There will be a lot of rain and snow in the south during the Spring Festival," the National Meteorological Administration said.

The weather agency warned heavy snow was expected in eastern China and forecast freezing rain for Guizhou province in the southwest and in central Hunan province.

The weather threatened to cause chaos as millions travelled to be with their families around the vast nation of 1.3 billion, an exodus believed to be the world's largest annual human migration.

Authorities are hoping to avoid a repeat of the massive cold wave and freezing rain that hit southern and central China in 2008, crippling transport systems and stranding millions just as the travel rush got under way.

The government has said 210 million passengers were expected to take the train during the current New Year period, which officially began late January.

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