Stranded tourists in Xinjiang safely depart as partial road sections resume traffic amidst snowstorm
Published: Jan 15, 2024 10:46 PM
Snow clearance teams are working on-site to clear the roads in Altay, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on January 13, 2024. Photo: VCG

Snow clearance teams are working on-site to clear the roads in Altay, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on January 13, 2024. Photo: VCG

Some tourists stranded in Atlay, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, due to snowstorms have been safely relocated to a local county, after roads blocked by avalanches were cleared, media reported on Monday.

Continuous heavy snowfall has struck Altay in Xinjiang since January 8, blocking two roads to the Kanas scenic spot and several other roads in the area. The local traffic police department implemented traffic control measures on the affected sections on the same day, causing some tourists to be stranded in Kanas and Hemu scenic areas, according to media reports on Monday.

After several days of continuous operations, the western road to the Kanas scenic area resumed traffic on Saturday. On Sunday, more than 100 stranded tourists were led by the traffic police to head to Burqin county.

"After the road was cleared, we provided three police cars to escort the stranded tourists, and currently, the tourists have safely arrived in the county," local police said.

Currently, over 1,000 tourists stranded on the eastern road of the Kanas scenic area are accommodated in Hemu village, with basic living supplies fully provided. The relevant departments stated that they will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of the stranded tourists.

According to the Xinjiang Daily, large rotary polishing machines were widening the road surface at about 30 kilometers away from the Hemu scenic area, and simultaneously, some material support vehicles were heading towards the area.

In addition to ground rescue efforts, helicopters have been dispatched since Saturday for rescue operations. China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday that given the unpredictable weather and thick clouds in the mountainous area, the helicopters hovered to find the best landing spot before safely delivering rescue personnel and supplies to the designated locations.

Due to the ongoing snowstorm, the Kanas scenic spot announced on Monday that it will temporarily suspend the opening of the scenic area until Saturday to ensure the safety of the tourists. If there are any changes to the opening hours, the public will be notified in a timely manner.

Also on Monday, the local traffic police department said on its WeChat account that the Kanas scenic area roads, with a total length of about 150 kilometers, have experienced more than 110 avalanches since January 10. After all-out efforts, as of 10 am on Monday, 120 kilometers of snow-blocked sections in the avalanche areas have been cleared.

Faced with extreme weather, the Kanas scenic spot said on Saturday that it would provide free food and accommodation to stranded tourists, gaining widespread praise online for its commendable act.

According to CCTV News, starting from the end of December 2023, the major ski resorts in Altay have witnessed a peak in tourists, with the average daily number of visitors exceeding 15,000.

Global Times