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Chinese premier calls for patience

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Monday brought welcome relief to millions of Chinese migrant workers desperate to see their families, as the nation’s transportation system seemed to be getting back on its feet after being paralyzed by a historic winter storm.

Still, as some roads became traversable, more and more images of devastation from the past couple of weeks became apparent.

CNN saw an auto manufacturing plant — perhaps half a kilometer long — in Xiangtan, part of Hunan province, that had collapsed under the weight of snow and ice.

The government has already estimated damage from the storm — the worst in 50 years — at more than $7 billion. And the more pressing concern was getting supplies such as heating oil and food to areas that had lost power and been cut off days ago.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said Monday that electricity supply is gradually resuming and transport services are basically back to normal, and the country’s production and life are in normal conditions, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

The storm struck 19 out of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in the Chinese mainland, Xinhua said. It has been blamed for 63 deaths — 25 of them when a bus slipped off a mountain in icy conditions in southwestern Guizhou province.

On Tuesday, China said 11 electricians had died from efforts to restore power to parts of China hit hard by the snow and ice storms, The Associated Press reported.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said at least 223,000 homes have been crushed and another 862,000 damaged, according to Xinhua.

Nearly 1.8 million people have been relocated in the past two weeks, Xinhua said.

At Guangdong province’s Guangzhou train station — which had been one of the most heart-wrenching and dramatic scenes last week — there was no longer a massive throng of travelers clamoring and screaming to get a coveted slot on a train. Instead, the tens of thousands who remained waited in organized fashion for their turn.

To ensure no one tried to skip ahead, police in groups of four held hands and walked in front of rows of travelers.

More than 300,000 soldiers had been dispatched to the southern Guangdong province, including 12,000 to help at the train station alone.

More than 250,000 passengers made it safely onto trains in a 24-hour period, said Xian Wei Xiong, Guangzhou’s transportation director. Watch travelers struggle to get home

When I see the passengers happily getting on their trains, I feel so happy, he said. Noting that he has barely slept since the crisis set in on January 26, he added, This is the greatest national disaster we have ever met.

And — in a telling sign from a dedicated Chinese Communist Party official — Xian added, there are lessons to be learned.

We should reconsider how much pressure the transportation network in our nation can stand.

Jiao Meiyan, director general of China’s National Meteorological Center, predicted fairly good weather in most of south China through the end of the week, giving the nation a chance to clear clogged highways and move goods.

Zhuhai-Beijing highway, China’s major north-south transport artery, reopened Monday.

It could also lift morale as the nation celebrates the Lunar New Year on Thursday. Many Chinese hope to make it home by Wednesday for Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Still, forecasters warned temperatures could be freezing at night. Another cold front is expected to sweep through China in the coming week, but is expected to be short and relatively mild.
Chinese premier calls for patience – found here.

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February 5, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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