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Harsh winter triggers travel rage in China

Angry and desperate, workers trying to get home for China’s biggest holiday vented their fury on Tuesday at officials struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of stranded travellers.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2008 23:58 IST

Angry and desperate, workers trying to get home for China’s biggest holiday vented their fury on Tuesday at officials struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of stranded travellers.

"Take him out and beat him," a woman shouted to an agitated mob, glaring at a rail official in Guangzhou. "Otherwise they'll never understand how serious this is."

The harsh winter weather freezing large swathes of China has wreaked havoc on the nation's ports and railways, exacerbating the trials that millions of travellers undergo every year during the peak holiday season.

One of the worst affected cities is Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong, which has a huge population of migrant workers from other provinces toiling in nearby factories.

Thousands crowded into the station here, packed like sardines, even as hope of returning home for the Lunar New Year festival faded.

Authorities battling to contain the situation tried to turn away travellers by telling them to come back another day.

"No trains will be leaving for the north today," rail officials blared over loudspeakers.

"It is better for you to leave the station and return to your homes and wait for the weather to get better."

Guangzhou authorities were taking no chances. Hundreds of police officers and railway staff were deployed for crowd control as angry passengers swamped enquiry desks and surrounded rail officials, waving their train tickets and shouting abuse.

25 die in accident

Chaotic winter weather besieged China's business and farming heartland on Tuesday amid the country's worst power crisis, with one mountain-road accident blamed on snow killing 25 people ahead of a major holiday.

A bus plunged more than 40 metres from a snowy mountain road in the southwest province of Guizhou, Xinhua news agency said, the first known major accident caused by the freak weather.

Elsewhere, about 24 people have died in recent weather-caused accidents.