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Learning English - Words in the News
28 January, 2008 - Published 13:16 GMT
Heavy snow hits China
Heavy snow hits China

China's government has issued a severe weather warning after the heaviest snowfalls in decades. The country is experiencing transport delays and power cuts as millions of people prepare to make long journeys home for the Chinese New Year. This report from Quentin Sommerville:

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China hasn't experienced weather this bad in decades. And as the country prepares for Chinese New Year, the disruption couldn't come at a worse time. Over 100,000 people are stranded in Guangzhou railway station in the south. It may climb to as many as 600,000 as more people arrive to make their journeys home for the Spring Festival. Travellers have been evacuated to nearby sports stadiums and exhibition centres.

Across China around nineteen airports have shut because of the weather. Around half the provinces in the country have had to start rationing power, according to the state media. The government has suspended coal exports in favour of home consumption. At least a dozen people died over the weekend because of heavy rains and the snowfall.

The Spring Festival is China's most important holiday when people journey home to be with their families. For millions of the country's migrant workers it's their only holiday. Some two billion journeys were made during the festival last year, making it the largest migration of people on the planet. And even without the severe weather, conditions on overcrowded trains and buses are terrible. The holiday stretches China's transport system to its very limits.

Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Shanghai

Listen to the words

a decade is a period of ten years

unable to leave somewhere because of an inconvenience (e.g., a lack of transport)

taken away (from a difficult or dangerous situation or place)

rationing power
allowing people and businesses to use only a certain amount of electricity

suspended coal exports
temporarily stopped selling coal abroad

home consumption
here, using coal inside the country

travel, go

migrant workers
people who live and work in a different place to where they come from

too full, with too many people gathered in one place

stretches China's transport system to its very limits
when all trains, planes and buses in China are completely full

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