Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Coldest Winter

I am back to Singapore, finally, after experienced the coldest winter in Guangzhou. On the day of my arrival in Guangzhou, it was raining and cold. Temperature was below 10C. Wind was blowing. I was lucky, as Guangzhou was already my destination. Many others on the same flight still had to continue their journey home, although they were a bit lost. Nobody knew what was in store for them. Many airports were closed due to poor weather, trains were stopped because there was no electricity. Long distance coach service was also halted as roads were closed.

A few hundred thousand passengers were straded at the Guangzhou Railway Station. Thousands of police, military & paramilitary personel were deployed to maintain law & order, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance.

It was a sad scene. Those stranded at the railway station were the workers of the world factory. After a year, even a few years' work for some, they wanted to go home for lunar year, yet they had to experience such disaster. Many of them can't even afford a ticket in the sleeping class train ticket. Many of them were stranded in the railway station for days, standing in the rain and the coldest weather ever in Guangzhou, with only instant noodle to survive.

In northern Guangdong province, the scene is almost exactly as the movie The Day After Tomorrow depicts. Everywhere was white. Everything is frozen. Transmission towers that were designed to support up 6 tons of loan collapsed under the weight of snow and ice. Thousands of cars, trucks were stranded on the highway. A living hell!

Luckily the weather turned for the better on 3 Feb, and train service restored fully on 6 Feb, the eve of Lunar New Year!

My mum's friends, who survived without electricity and water for almost two weeks in Hunan province, finally got electricity again on 7 Feb, the first day of Lunar New Year, after Chinese premier Wen Jia-bao paid a number of visits to the province.

This is a human/natural disaster that should be recorded in the book of history.

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