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article imageRecord snowfall brings Beijing, Seoul to a standstill

By Owen Weldon     Jan 4, 2010 in World
China and South Korea were hit with a punishing snowstorm today, with Seoul residents experiencing the heaviest snowfall in modern history.
Since the weekend cold, ice and snow has crippled roads and caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights in North Asia. More than two million pupils in Beijing and Tianjin had the day off as officials took a rare step and closed thousands of schools.
The Chinese capital is expected to see temperatures fall to -18C tonight. It is also expected that temperatures will reach -32C in the northernmost parts of the country by Wednesday morning.
Today in Seoul a blizzard dumped more than 10 inches of snow, the greatest snowfall since Korea began conducting weather surveys in 1937, according to the state weather agency.
More than 200 flights were cancelled at Gimpo international airport, west of the capital. They resumed service later in the afternoon. More than 20 flights between Incheon international airport and cities in China were also cancelled and another 100 to other regions were delayed.
Subway trains struggled to cope with traffic. It took more than 3,000 workers to remove the snow from Seoul's roads and pavements.
Authorities in Beijing had to mobilise more than 300,000 people to clear the streets after Sunday's blizzard dumped 3in of snow, the most snow dumped in the capital in a single day in January since 1951. More than 8in of snow was also dumped in Changping, near the great wall, according to China's national meteorological centre.
The main international airport in Beijing cancelled more than 600 flights and delayed more than 500 flights yesterday. That means 90 percent of all flights were affected.
Today there were further cancellations and delays but staff managed to open all three runways again and hoped to clear the backlog.
According to a wholesale market in Beijing, several vegetables had risen in price by 10 to 50 percent because of transport problems. There are concerns that crops will be destroyed and there will be more economic damage due to the weather.
Officials are also concern about the strain the cold weather will place on China's gas and oil prices. In the last two months China has experienced gas shortages due to demand because of the unusually cold weather. More snow is expected this week.
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