Lunar New Year rush, China
Passengers wait to board trains at a railway station in Beijing REUTERS/Jason Lee

Thousands of travellers thronged China's main railway stations as they attempted to return to their homes in time for the Chinese Lunar New Year. However, rains and rare snowfall disrupted the country's transport system, leaving people to wait out the delays in the cold.

According to the People's Daily, more than 100,000 travellers were stranded at southern China's Guangzhou railway station following train delays due to unexpected snowfall. Considering the rush, authorities were forced to deploy 2,600 guards to oversee the situation.

"Just getting back home is so difficult," one traveller wrote on Weibo. "People have to stand in the rain for more than 10 hours." Most of the people are migrant workers and students hoping to reach their villages to celebrate the Year of the Monkey. The Chinese New Year will take place on 8 February this year.

With the snow and rain making an already-strenuous situation more difficult, Guangzhou police chief Xie Xiaodan and Chen Rugui, a senior Communist party leader, were present at the scene to control the situation and prevent stampedes or riots. The situation was similar at various other major railway stations across the country.

In central China, airports also faced problems, with the airport in Wuhan reporting the cancellation of 67 flights on Sunday (31 January). Along with trains and flights being delayed, numerous expressways were blocked by heavy traffic.

Every year, an average of 2.9bn journeys are made during the 40-day period of the New Year, which began on 21 January, with celebrations continuing into late February.