China’s “Chunyun” return travel hectic amid snow, rain, fog

 

 

 

Passengers queue to check in at the Meilan Airport in Haikou, capital of south China’s Hainan

Province, on February 24, 2015,  the last day of the Spring Festival holidays. Millions of  people

returning from hometowns and scenic areas reached a peak across the country on Tuesday.  

Photo by Chu Hongyu

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-02-24 22:30:38

 

China’s “Chunyun”

return travel hectic

amid snow, rain, fog

 

 

By Cheng Lu, Sun Fei, Li Lijing, Xu Zheng, Chen Ji, Wu Tao and Lu Guoqiang

 

 

Wang Long found it even harder to return from his hometown in central China’s Hubei Province to Beijing as the 1,000-plus-km trip by highway took him more than 16 hours.

Snow, icy rain and fog caused flight delays and highway closures in many parts of China on Tuesday of February 24, the last day of the week-long Lunar New Year Festival, when millions of travelers like Wang are on road back to school or work.

China Central Meteorological Station on Tuesday forecast snow fall in many northern regions, and rainy and foggy weather in most of the southern parts.

Such meteorological conditions have affected the post-holiday travel rush. Wang Long started his journey at around 5 a.m., but he was stuck in highway traffic in central China’s Henan Province where heavy fog blanketed some areas of the province and caused congestion in the morning.

To save time, he only ate a bowl of instant noodle and stopped at two service stations for rest during the long driving trip.

“I feel that the return travel spree is even heavier and harder than the pre-holiday migration,” said Wang, who has returned home every year since he came to Beijing to do business since the 1990s.

The pre- and post-holiday travel rush known as “Chunyun” in Chinese tradition has been called the world’s largest human migration, when 2.8 billion trips were expected during the 40-day travel season till March 16 this year.

At around 3 p.m. Tuesday, highways linking to Beijing were heavily congested as people rushed to catch up the toll free hours, which are to be expired at midnight Tuesday.

Nationwide, people on return trips to cities have been forecast to peak from Tuesday to Friday. Big cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou would see the most arrivals.

The Beijing Southern Railway Station, the largest of four railway terminals in the national capital, would see 110,000 arrivals on Tuesday and 130,000 on Wednesday, up from 100,000 recorded on Monday.

Guangzhou Railway Station said it would receive nearly 177,000 arrivals on Tuesday.

“I stood for 18 hours on the train from Luoyang City of Henan to Guangzhou. To get more sleep is what I want to do right now,” said a migrant worker surnamed Xiao.

In northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, heavy snow disrupted flights and closed major highways. More than 2,000 workers have swept snow for three days and nights and reopened the roads. Passengers began to flock to airports and railway stations on Tuesday morning.

Wang Shaojie, deputy head of the Harbin Railway Station, said the station has added train shuttles to Beijing and neighboring Jilin Province to help transfer passengers.

Snow, rain and fog failed to stop people’s steps. Traffic authorities estimated that about 9.7 million trips were made by train and some 1.4 million by plane on Tuesday, setting new records. Another 73.6 million trips were made by highway.

With aching and stiff legs and arms, Wang Long got home in Beijing at 9 p.m..

“No matter how tired I am, I feel refilled with power every time I return from hometown, where my dream began and where my mother is expecting our next reunion,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-02-24 22:39:39

 

 Retail sales surge during China’s Lunar New Year holiday

By Yu Jiaxin and Cheng Jing

China’s retail sales for the week-long Spring Festival holiday continued to grow steadily as businesses rushed to take advantage of the nationwide shopping spree, data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed on Tuesday of February 24.

Shops and restaurants across the country pocketed 678 billion yuan (111.1 billion U.S. dollars) in sales volume, up 11 percent from last year’s holiday period, the MOC said in an online statement.

Sales of traditional festival-related goods saw rapid growth, but that of high-end gifts such as tobacco and liquor cooled due to the government’s ongoing austerity campaign, according to the ministry.

As a bright spot in the consumption market, many businesses have launched promotional events through social media forums such as Weibo and WeChat to boost sales.

Meanwhile, falling gold prices boosted jewelry sales, with the Sheep-themed accessories most favored by consumers. Major jewelry stores in Shanghai reported daily sales of over 200,000 yuan during the period.

In the catering market, fair-price family reunion dinners stood out as businesses cut prices to cater to the masses amid the austerity campaign.

The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, which fell on Feb. 19 this year, is traditionally a time for family reunions. Businesses experience a boom during the period as people swarm to shops and restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-02-24 22:57:06

 

 44 killed in fire accidents during Spring Festival

By Ren Ke

A total of 44 people have been killed in fire accidents during the week-long Spring Festival, China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said on Tuesday of February 24.

From Wednesday last week to the midday of Tuesday, 15,742 fire accidents broke out around the country, killing 44 and injuring 17, said the ministry, adding that no fire accident that killed five and above happened.

An unidentified official from the fire department of the MPS said police nationwide strengthened inspections of fire risks in large shopping malls, religious sites, restaurants and the areas for fireworks.

More than 197,000 sites were checked and 209,000 hidden fire dangers were found, according to the ministry.

Since the holiday began on Wednesday last week, firefighters saved over 2,000 people and relocated nearly 14,000 in fire accidents, the MPS said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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