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Record snow in SKorea, China; 1400 trapped on train for 30 hours

January 6, 2010 1:05am
Residents in China's capital Beijing started clearing away the blanket of snow that covered the city, while rescuers in Inner Mongolia saved 1,400 passengers from a train covered in snow.

Northern China is currently experiencing the heaviest snowfall in six decades.

Clearing Beijing with shovels, brooms

Beijing does not have the infrastructure needed to clear a large snowfall quickly - but what it lacks in machinery, it makes up for in manpower.

With snow ploughs in short supply, more than 300-thousand people were assigned to clear snow in the capital with shovels and brooms.

People were shoveling and sweeping away heavy snow in the streets of Beijing early on Tuesday and many of those have been doing that on a daily basis since Sunday.

Sunday's snowfall ended overnight but frigid winds and temperatures of -12.8 Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) made for tough travel for the millions of commuters in the nation's capital.

Primary and secondary schools were closed in Beijing along with the nearby port of Tianjin.

More than three inches (7.6 cm) of snow accumulated in the city center on Sunday, according to China's National Meteorological Center.

Chinese state media called it the highest snowfall in the capital in a single day in January since 1951.

Upward of 8 inches (20 cm) was recorded in the suburbs of Changping near the Great Wall of China.

Train trapped in Inner Mongolia

On Monday, more than 1400 passengers were evacuated from a train trapped by heavy snow for more than 30 hours, China's state television reported.

The train from Harbin to Baotou ran into snow more than two meters (6.5 feet) high near Jining in Inner Mongolia on Sunday and the first group of passengers were evacuated on Monday.

All 15 carriages were buried in snow and passengers were stranded in the train without lighting and heating.

Food and drinking water were also in short supply, the local railway bureau said.

The heavy snow led to the delay of 13 passenger trains in Inner Mongolia, and forced the closure of all four airports in Shandong, as well as 30 state highways in northern China.

Seoul snow, heaviest since 1937

In South Korea, residents in the capital Seoul were slowly resuming their daily routine on Tuesday, a day after the capital was hit by the heaviest snowfall in modern Korean history, paralyzing traffic and forcing flight cancellations.

More than 11 inches (28 cm) of snow fell on Seoul on Monday, the heaviest in a single day since Korea began conducting meteorological surveys in 1937.

On Tuesday, flights out of Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul were running on schedule, as airport workers continued to shovel snow from the runways.

The airport had cancelled 224 flights on Monday morning before resuming service in the afternoon when the snowfall eased.

In Seoul city center, commuters made their way to work in a city still covered in a thick blanket of snow.

Many left their homes earlier than usual on Tuesday to avoid getting stuck in traffic which caused severe delays the day previously.

At least three people died in traffic accidents on Monday. – AP