China reopens highway after winter barrage

From the Associated Press

China's main north-south national highway reopened Monday after weeks of snow and ice storms, easing transportation bottlenecks that have stranded millions of people and disrupted food and fuel supplies as the year's biggest holiday approaches.

The China Meteorological Administration predicted rain and sleet through today, but said the weather would clear in time for the Lunar New Year on Thursday.

Parts of central and eastern China have seen the worst winter weather in more than half a century, with snow and ice storms that began Jan. 10 causing power lines to snap and pylons to topple. Electric locomotives stopped on the tracks, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of trains.

Although the weather has not been especially harsh by northern Chinese standards, other parts of the country have little experience with snow.

The restoration of traffic along the main Zhuhai-Beijing highway came as rail service began returning to normal.

Cold rain poured down on hundreds of thousands of travelers, most of them migrant workers, as they waited at the southern terminus of Guangzhou for trains to take them home for the holiday -- the only time of the year that most can see families in rural areas.

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