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Cablegate: Large Numbers of Travelers Depart Guangzhou; Up to One

VZCZCXRO8606
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0063 0350911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040911Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6852
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASH DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000063

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELTN SOCI PGOV ELAB ECON CH
SUBJECT: Large Numbers of Travelers Depart Guangzhou; Up to One
Million Still Waiting


(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Guangzhou's main train station continues to draw
travelers, with estimates that as many as one million people remain
stranded in South China. In the wake of two train-station-related
deaths over the weekend, police erected additional roadblocks
outside Friday's half-mile perimeter and now enforce strict access
control, only allowing valid ticket holders near the train station.
Authorities have created numerous special channels to transport
passengers from city shelters to the station. Though power outages
in parts of Guangdong continue, bus service has resumed after
soldiers were sent to clear the province's icy northern roads. End
summary.

2. (U) As many as 1 million people in Guangzhou are still waiting to
travel home before New Year's Eve on February 6, according to media
reports. Guangzhou Railway Company reportedly boarded 600,000
passengers onto departing trains February 1-3. Though no injury
figures have been released, at least two people have died: a man
from Hunan Province died February 1 from electrical burns suffered
after jumping from an overpass onto an electric train; and a female
watch factory worker from Hubei Province was trampled to death at
Guangzhou's Railway Station Square February 2.

3. (SBU) Police instituted strict access control procedures February
4 and erected additional security barriers more than 1/2 mile from
Railway Station Square. Congenoffs witnessed police deny entry to
anyone without a valid train ticket for the current date of travel
or the previous five days. Travelers slowly moved in groups through
holding areas and checkpoints every 200 yards along main roads
leading to the train station. Crowds that had previously gathered
outside the station square have been disbursed, with the number of
police equaling that of travelers at certain points inside the
newly-reinforced security perimeter.

4. (U) Authorities have established a special waiting area for
pregnant women and families with small children at a conference
center near the train station, providing departure announcements at
the shelter area and shuttle bus service to the train station. Bus
passengers arriving from outside Guangzhou were taken to the new
Canton Fair Pazhou Convention Center and given discounted meals as
they waited for their train departures. Special non-stop subway
trains convey passengers directly from the Pazhou shelter to the
train station.

5. (SBU) Despite ongoing power outages in northern Guangdong
Province affecting almost 750,000 residents, traffic along southern
stretches of the Beijing-Zhuhai Highway resumed February 3.
Thousands of power company workers and soldiers have been sent to
restore power and clear ice from frozen roadways in recent days,
with party officials visiting affected areas to inspect conditions.
Congenoff witnessed frequent departures at Guangzhou Bus Station
February 4, although many northern routes were delayed or cancelled
due to dangerous road conditions.

GOLDBERG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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