'Nearly 100,000' Chinese New Year travellers stranded in Guangzhou due to cold snap

Passengers waiting to enter a railway station after trains were delayed due to bad weather in Guangzhou, China, on Feb 1, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Nearly 100,000 Chinese New Year travellers in China were stranded in the city of Guangzhou on Monday (Feb 1), the police said, as snow and ice disrupted the world's largest annual human migration.

Many trains to the capital of the southern province of Guangdong were delayed after north and central China were hit by the big freeze, leaving no transport available for those waiting to leave.

Police said on a verified microblog that the numbers stuck at two of the city's main stations, Guangzhou and Guangzhou East, reached nearly 100,000 in total on Monday afternoon, prompting the mobilisation of almost 4,000 police and security guards to maintain order at the sites, it said.

As China's manufacturing powerhouse, Guangdong is a major hub for the vast numbers of migrant workers who leave their homes in China's countryside to labour in its factories.

Many only return home once a year, when tradition dictates all family members must gather before midnight on the eve of the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 8 this year.

The phenomenon puts huge pressure on China's transport infrastructure.

The government estimated that 2.91 billion trips will be taken over the holiday's 40-day travel season, in what is thought to be the largest yearly movement of people in the world.

Much of China was struck by a teeth-chattering cold snap late last month that broke decades-old records, with snow falling in some areas for the first time in years.

Guangzhou police warned of more train transport chaos to come as the bad weather was expected to continue.

Police urged passengers not to go to railway stations too far ahead of their train's scheduled departure time to avoid "waiting for overly long time" and "overcrowding the surrounding areas".

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