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Record chill across China disrupts transport

A record chill across China has stranded passenger flights, trapped ships in ice and caught truck drivers unawares. Meteorologists blamed cold fronts caused, they say, by melting polar ice from global warming.

China's meteorological office had calculated average temperatures at their lowest in 28 years, according to the state news agency Xinhua on Saturday.

Since November, thermometers have averaged minus 3.8 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) nationwide. In northeastern China, the average was minus 15 degrees Celsius.

The China Daily newspaper said eastern Laizhou Bay off Shandong province had frozen over, stranding nearly 1,000 ships in ice.

Cold stalls southern airport

Xinhua said 280 flights had been grounded at Changshui International Airport in the southern Chinese city of Kunming until thick fog lifted on Saturday afternoon.

Frustrated passengers confronted airline staff, complaining about a lack of information, according to the news agency AFP.

Meanwhile, truck drivers in southeastern Jiangxi province were caught out by extreme snowfalls which caused vehicle tailbacks.

"I didn't expect such a situation, so I've brought no warm coats or food," stranded trucker Yao Xuefeng told the China Daily. "All I can do now is wait."

Heavy snow also forced partial closures of the Beijing-Hong Kong highway.

Harbin, in northeastern China, was due to open its renowned Ice and Snow Festival on Saturday, with temperatures locally at minus 24 degrees.

ipj/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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