BEIJING - Thousands of vehicles have been trapped on roads after two days of snow in China's biggest coal-mining province, disrupting the movement of people and coal, state media reported on Wednesday.
Some 10,000 vehicles and 30,000 people were stranded in the northern province of Shanxi by the snows that began on Monday, Chinese state radio news reported (www.cnr.cn).
The massive traffic jams had eased a little by midday on Wednesday, but hold-ups would continue for a while yet, said the report.
There will be some hardship with public travel, coal transport, and shipments of materials for domestic and production needs, said the report.
Last year, Shanxi produced 656 million tonnes of coal, or about 23 percent of the country's total output.
Places across the province hit by the jams included Datong, Changzhi and other big coal mining centers. But there were no signs yet that the supply disruptions have seriously hurt power or industrial production.
If the bad weather and traffic jam stay for more than a week, it will cause problems in coal supply, said Chen Liang, an analyst at Everbright Securities. It's possible we could see serious coal and power shortages as in early 2008.
Chen added that coal stocks at power plants have dropped to an average level just enough for 14 days of use. Central, eastern and southern China are among regions that have experienced a quick slip in coal stocks.
A similar snow storm in early 2008 paralyzed roads and knocked down power lines in the southern part of the country.
A separate announcement on the website of the Shanxi provincial government (www.shanxigov.cn) urged local officials to take care of stranded passengers.
Widespread snow across northern China on Monday evening paralyzed traffic in many places and brought roads in the capital, Beijing, to a crawl.
Lighter snow is expected in coming days, according to weather forecasts on the website of China's National Meteorological Center (www.nmc.gov.cn).
(Reporting by Huang Yan and Chris Buckley; Additional reporting by Rujun Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani)