Extreme weather: blizzards batter Northeast China

Extreme cold weather and blizzards have caused widespread disruption to northeast China this week, as fluctuation in climatic conditions continue to wreak havoc.

With snowfall as deep as 25 centimetres, over 90% of expressway entrances in Jilin province had been closed as of 7 p.m. (1100GMT), state television CCTV said.

The weather has forced hundreds of flights to be rescheduled and closed schools as several cities issued heightened weather alerts and warned people to stay indoors.

In the country’s northernmost province Heilongjiang, the local railway operator halted 51 passenger lines over safety concerns.

A gymnasium in Heilongjiang’s Jiamusi city collapsed, trapping three inside, according to CCTV.

State-run Jimu News said there were children at the venue at the time of the incident. It is unclear if the collapse was related to the snowfall, the report said. A rescue operation is underway.

Schools, kindergartens, and off-campus training institutions in most parts of Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang, will remain suspended on Tuesday, after they were cancelled on Monday, CCTV said.

China’s national weather forecaster renewed its orange blizzard alert – the second highest tier of its colour-coded warning system –  as more snow was expected from Monday night to Tuesday in parts of Jilin and Heilongjiang.

Earlier on Monday, 405 flights were cancelled at Harbin Taiping International Airport, according to data from third-party travel app Flight Master.

Many flights were also cancelled in Jilin and Liaoning provinces, according to reports.