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Stranded worker dies in China crush
Migrant workers urged to abandon holiday travel as freezing weather continues.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2008 06:23 GMT
About 260,000 people have been waiting to board trains at Guangzhou railway station [AFP]
Chinese officials have warned people to stay away from the country's crowded railway stations after one person died as frustrated passengers rushed to board trains delayed because of the freezing weather.

About 260,000 people wanting head home for the Lunar New Year holiday have besieged Guangzhou station waiting for days to travel.
Li Hongxia, a watch factory worker trying to get home to Hubei province, in central China was crushed in the stampede to get on a train.

"We were down here then and the mood was pretty angry," Al Jazeera's Tony Cheng in Guangzhou said on Sunday.
"A lot of people who had been waiting for as much as a week looked as if they weren't going to get in [to the station]. The crowd was swaying backwards and forwards and obviously things got a lot nastier," he said.

Another woman was quite badly injured in the crush.

Passenger backlog

Authorities in Guangzhou said that their priority was to clear the backlog of thousands of people still waiting at the railway station, having encouraged many others to skip what for many is their only chance of the year to visit family.

"One woman I spoke to last night hadn't seen her two children for three years and she was absolutely not going to give up"

Al Jazeera's
Tony Cheng in Guangzhou
"These people work incredibly hard for 50 weeks of the year. They are living in dormitories stacked on top of one another. Many have left their families at home," Al Jazeera's Tony Cheng said.

"One woman I spoke to last night hadn't seen her two children for three years and she was absolutely not going to give up."

Almost 200 million people are expected to make trips home to be with their families for the holidays - reputed to be the largest annual human migration in the world.

However, Wang Yongping, ministry of railways spokesman, was reported by Xinhua new agency as saying that it was simply not possible for everyone to make their journeys after so many delays and cancellations.

"The railways can't go beyond their capacity to meet everyone's need," he said. "We have to say sorry to those who couldn't get tickets."

Security cordons

Passengers at the station said police and soldiers added more of cordons on Sunday to hold back the swarming crowds. Xinhua reported that  12,000 security personnel.

 Heavy snowfalls have disrupted
China's power supplies [AFP]
Meanwhile, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, urged people to be brave as the blizzards and freezing temperatures continued to disrupt power supplies.

"We have the faith, courage and ability to overcome" he said in radio address from on board a train in China's southern Hunan province.

Heavy snowfalls have toppled power lines and the chaos on the rail network has held up thousands of coal trains.

On Sunday, fog caused further misery in parts of Hunan, delaying flights and bringing road traffic to a standstill, Xinhua said. In the capital city of Changsha, visibility was reduced to 50 metres.    

At least 60 people have died because of the atrocious weather conditions, most of them in traffic accidents.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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