As China faces the worst ever snowfall in fifty years, millions of migrant workers are giving up hope to reach their families in time to celebrate the Spring Festival , falling on February 7.
Since January 10, more than 827,000 citizens have been evacuated from 14 districts as reports of scores of people been killed by related accidents pour in.
AdvertisementCurrently the peak travel season centered around the Lunar Year holiday is showing just a few signs of picking up, after monstrous snow in central, eastern and southern China crippled and left in chaos, the nation's railway transport network.
Last week, an estimated half-a-million passengers were stuck at the Guangzhou railway station as snow knocked out power supplies and halted rail operations. Thousands huddled in alleys, wet and shivering and trying to find a dry area for their children to sleep. Around the same time, ten airports had to be closed and the snow cut off many highways.
Recent reports give that power has now been restored to Chenzhou, one of China's worst-hit cities. The area had been without water and electricity for more than a week .Residents had to struggle with darkness and cold as the prices of candles and coal balls, for light and heating, respectively, shot up.
Meanwhile, a latest round of snow has hit the country's central, southern and eastern areas on Friday, multiplying the woes caused by previous snowfalls.
China's top legislator Wu Bangguo , Sunday last visited the railway ministry and other departments in Beijing which are playing a key role in the fight against this freak cold winter .
Wu urged the staff of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and the Railway Ministry to spare no effort in resuming power supply and transport in the snow-ravaged regions.
"Disaster relief work is the top priority of the whole nation," he urged.
Wu listed the current priorities as fixing electrical equipment and ensuring power supply for residents and railway lines.
He also urged officials to give priority to the transportation of coal for power plants, and the distribution of disaster-relief materials, food and other essential products.
Chinese leaders meanwhile warn that weather conditions in southern China will remain severe and relief work a difficult task. Some areas are still blanketed by fog and snow and more rain and sleet is expected this week.
The warning came after a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Sunday. It was chaired by President Hu Jintao and examined the current relief work.
There is fair satisfaction among Chinese residents with the work their leaders are doing, in the wake of one of the nation's worst natural disasters. Mobilizing the might of the state, the Chinese government put into action more than 300,000 troops and nearly 1.1 million militia and army reservists to get traffic moving and ensure power supplies.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made several trips to affected areas and as well as many home visits. The local government had already dispatched battery-powered lamps and foods to those affected.
"Please be patient. The situation will be better in a few days as the government is going all out to help you. Technicians rushed here from across the country to help fix the power transmission facilities," Wen was quoted, adding that local authorities must "act now, don't wait."
In the meantime , the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has given that while "Relief work will remain very grim, posing a tough task on us', they insist that "We have the faith, courage and ability to overcome the severe natural disaster no matter how the weather will change."
The government appears to be doing its best to restore transportation and power supply and guarantee people's daily needs. Provincial and local governments have been asked to continue to make the relief work a top priority. The transportation authority has also been ordered to prioritize stranded people on their way home. According to recent reports, in China's commercial capital of Shanghai, 795,000 people left by train and a further 110,000 left by road on Sunday.
Residential areas, hospitals, schools and railway stations are listed top priority for power supply and the country will be allocating more electricity to disaster-hit regions from nearby areas.
Meanwhile there are warnings of a crackdown on any kind of overcharging, especially on daily commodities like rice, meat and cooking oil.
"We are trying to minimize the damage and stabilize the economy," the government assures the people of China.
"Senior leaders visiting disaster hit areas are 'a natural response' by the government that shows care for people," says Michael Chui, a Hong Kong born Chinese living in Beijing, "It's an important move that shows the government is 'aware of the problem' and thinks about the people." This statement could well sum up the nation's gratitude.