Beijing, Feb 2: Nearly 100,000 Lunar New Year travellers in China are stranded in the city of Guangzhou, as snow and ice disrupt what is thought to be the world’s largest annual human migration, reports Aljazeera and AFP.
Many trains to the capital of the southern province of Guangdong have been delayed since Monday after north and central China were hit by icy conditions, leaving no transport available for those waiting to leave.
Al Jazeera confirmed that the number of commuters stuck at two of the city’s main stations, Guangzhou and Guangzhou East, had reached nearly 100,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
Almost 4,000 police and security guards were mobilised to maintain order at the sites, AFP reported.
Senior Al Jazeera meteorologist Steff Gaulter said the forecast for the region looked more favourable over the next few days, with no further heavy snow expected this week.
Guangdong, China’s manufacturing powerhouse, is a major hub for vast numbers of migrant workers who leave their homes in the countryside to labour in its factories.
Many workers only return home once a year, when tradition dictates that all family members must gather before midnight on the eve of the Lunar New Year, which this year falls on February 8.
The phenomenon puts huge pressure on China’s transport infrastructure.
The government estimated that 2.91 billion trips would be made over the holiday’s 40-day travel season, in what is believed to be the largest yearly movement of people in the world.
Much of China was struck by a cold snap late last month that broke decades-old records, with snow falling in some areas for the first time in years.
Police urged passengers not to travel to railway stations too long before their train’s scheduled departure time to avoid “waiting for overly long time” and “overcrowding the surrounding areas”.