3,500 stranded as heavy snow drapes China's Xinjiang

Thousands of people were stranded today in this winter's heaviest snowfall so far that hit Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang province.

Beijing: Thousands of people were stranded today in this winter's heaviest snowfall so far that hit Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang province.

The snow began early this morning, and was up to 200 mm by noon, disrupting traffic. Highway traffic was controlled and the Diwopu International Airport has suspended operations.

As of today noon, only two flights had landed and three planes had taken off. Most flights were delayed while snowplows were working on the runway and parking apron, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Seven flights have been cancelled and more than 3,500 passengers were stranded at the airport.

Two other airports, Yining and Tacheng, in northwest Xinjiang were temporarily suspended in the morning.

Pictures on Chinese microblog site Sina Weibo showed thick snow covering roads as well as vehicles.

Cars moved slowly and some were pushed forward. Many residents joined sanitary workers to sweep snow.

Multiple trains have been delayed due to the snowfall, with the local railway bureau restricting train speed on the Lanxin Railway linking Urumqi with Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, and the Nanjiang (Southern Xinjiang) Railway, which extends from Turpan City to Kashgar in Xinjiang, local media reported, citing the bureau sources.

The cold snap is expected to last until tomorrow. 

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