Volunteers serve porridge for tourists at Xiuying port in Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan Province, Feb. 22, 2018. Ferry services resumed Thursday on the Qiongzhou Strait, a major gateway to China's southernmost island province of Hainan, but time will be needed to clear the backlog of stranded vehicles. Haikou has set up 237 volunteer service areas for travelling families between Sunday and Thursday morning. Over 6,500 volunteers have offered help. (Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)
HAIKOU, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Rain and falling temperatures since Thursday afternoon have brought more worries to passengers stranded by heavy fog in south China's Hainan Province.
A prolonged heavy fog has disrupted ferry services on the Qiongzhou Strait, a major gateway to the island province, affecting tens of thousand of passengers, with many of them heading back home after spending their Spring Festival holiday on the island.
According to the government of the provincial capital of Haikou, as of 4 p.m. on Thursday, more than 14,000 cars were still waiting at the city's three ports, with some having already been stranded for over 14 hours.
The number increased from the morning as more cars joined the queues to leave Hainan for Guangdong Province via the strait.
Huang Maocai waited in a queue stretching about one kilometer with his truck loaded with peppers, which he was attempting to transport and sell in markets in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong.
"I arrived here yesterday afternoon at about 2 p.m. The rain will obviously make the traffic worse. Maybe I will have to wait until tomorrow morning to get on a boat," he said, adding he is afraid that the delay will affect the quality of the peppers.
A passenger surnamed Hu, from Nanjing City, was on holiday with her family in Hainan. Now the family is waiting to get across the strait. "It's getting colder now, and I'm afraid that my kid could catch a cold," she said.
The civil affairs department of Haikou set up four new rescue stations to cope with the rain and cold. A total of ten tents, 300 raincoats and 1,600 quilts were sent to the stations.
"The need for hot water increases as the weather gets colder. We are supplying more hot water to passengers, and some companies have been voluntarily sending hot steamed buns and food to them," said Li Yonghua, official with the department.
Ferry services on the strait resumed on Thursday morning on the Qiongzhou Strait after being suspended Wednesday night. However, the ferries are travelling slowly due to low visibility.
A freighter and a passenger ship collided off the coast of Guangdong at about 12:46 a.m. on Thursday. The freighter sank and two people are missing. Rescue work is under way.
"We are working with the city of Zhanjiang in Guangdong to ensure the shipping route operates normally," said Gu Gang, executive vice mayor of Haikou.
Hainan, known for its tropical climate and clean air, is a popular destination for Chinese tourists on winter holiday.
"It's the first time my family has travelled during the Spring Festival holiday. It's also an unexpected experience," said Fu Yingying, from Chongqing Municipality, who drove with her family to Hainan.
The family of six left Wenchang and arrived at Haikou on Wednesday afternoon. They have been waiting in the long queue outside a port.
"Luckily, volunteers offered us water and food. Without them, it would have been very hard to get through last night," Fu said.
Volunteer Ma Suying told Xinhua that she can understand the irritable moods of some passengers. "But most stranded passengers are calm and polite," she said.
Haikou set up over 200 volunteer service areas for travelling families between Sunday and Thursday morning. Over 6,500 volunteers have offered help.
The Haikou city government advised vehicles heading to the ports to delay their plans. It also issued a notice Wednesday night, asking residents to take Thursday, the first working day after the Spring Festival holiday, off to alleviate traffic jams caused by the waiting vehicles.