Rare snowfall causes delays at start of Chinese New Year getaway

BEIJING - Rare snow in central China has disrupted the country's Lunar New Year travel rush, which involves millions of people and is considered the largest annual human migration.

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Travellers faced flight delays and cancellations after heavy snow fell in central Hubei province Sunday and closed down the airport in the city of Wuhan. According to the airport's website, 67 flights were cancelled Sunday and a trickle of flights were delayed or cancelled Monday because of the bad weather. The official Xinhua News Agency said at least 2,000 people were stranded at the airport.

Sunday's closure of the airport had a knock-on effect on rail travel, as more people flocked to train stations. But the snow slowed down trains, with an average delay of up to 50 minutes, Xinhua reported.

One expressway linking Hubei with Jiangxi province to its south had traffic at a standstill for a stretch of about 3 kilometres (2 miles). Four major expressways in Jiangsu province were closed, Xinhua said.

Chinese travellers are expected to make 2.9 billion trips during the 40-day period, which began Jan. 21. Most of those trips will fall in the weeks around the Feb. 8 Lunar New Year, as migrant workers, students and others head home to celebrate with family.


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