Tens of thousands of travellers are stuck in train stations in southern and eastern China less than a week before the Lunar New Year kicks off, with severe weather conditions adding to the annual travel chaos.
In Guangzhou, Guangdong, authorities said as many as 100,000 passengers were gathering in the city’s main train station on Monday afternoon, sparking fears of potential stampedes and other accidents.
Local police have called upon travellers not to go to the station too early to wait for their trains. Some had done so one or even two days in advance and waited in the cold rain, according to local newspaper Yangcheng Evening News.
On Tuesday morning, the city’s subway company announced that some of its metro trains will pass Guangzhou Station without stopping, in order to lessen the congestion.
In eastern China’s Zhejiang province, snow caused a train to break down near Tongxiang on Monday, causing delays for in-bound and out-bound trains at both Hangzhou East Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Station.
Around 30,000 people were stuck at the Shanghai Hongqiao Station, according to the Shanghai Morning Post.
The snowy and rainy weather also caused flight delays. A woman flying from Wuhan to Guangzhou at around midnight on Monday said she was eventually the only passenger on the plane, as others had changed their flights due to delays.
According to Beijing Youth News, near empty planes are not uncommon during the Chinese New Year travel rush, known as the “largest annual human migration”, because most travellers – migrant workers – make their way home from big cities to less developed areas. Prices of flights going the opposite way usually drop dramatically due to the lack of demand.