More than 6,000 police officers descended on a train station in southern China on Tuesday to maintain order after tens of thousands of passengers were left stranded on their way home for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Up to 100,000 people were stuck inside one of the main railway stations in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, according to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper.
Travelers were on their way home to celebrate the Year of the Monkey celebrations which kick off Feb. 7.
Bad weather from central China had brought many trains to a halt leaving these people trapped inside the station.
Sixteen “temporary sheds” were erected outside the station to shelter up to 20,000 people, said Chen Jianping, a spokesperson for the Guangzhou Railway Group Corporation.
By Tuesday evening, more than 10,000 people were still trapped. The crowds finally began to disperse Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning as authorities dispatched more bullet trains and even ferries which carried some passengers to another train station in the same city.
About 48,000 travelers escaped the packed station after boarding up to 500 trains during the 24 hours leading to Wednesday morning, according to the news portal Sina.
Nonetheless, this isn’t the first time Guangzhou experienced a wave of stranded travelers. It’s not even the most intense episode. Back in 2008, heavy snow and ice crippled all transportation in the district.
Chen Xiaogang, a government official responsible for Chinese New Year travel planning, told the Xinhua news agency that the latest standstill was nothing compared to the one in 2008. Chen promised fewer delays for the rest of the year..