Thursday, January 31, 2008

News Item: "Psychologists treat China's stranded at rail stations"

Thu Jan 31, 4:55 AM ET

Railway passengers stranded by snow in east China's Zhejiang province are receiving counseling from psychologists in the crowded station waiting hall, state media said on Thursday.

Snow, sleet and ice blanketing much of central, eastern and southern China have killed dozens, cut power and hobbled transport ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts on Wednesday, leaving millions stranded at railway stations.

The municipal government of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, had set up a team of 16 psychologists to provide "crisis intervention counseling to anxious travelers" waiting to go home, Xinhua news agency said.

"Weariness and anxiety could lead to the malfunction of people's immune system and result in psychological problems," Zhao Guoqiu, a psychologist who heads the team, was quoted as saying.

"It is very necessary to provide psychological help to the stranded who are always under great pressure."

He told passengers it was useless to cry and instead encouraged them to turn to other means of transport to get home. "Listening, smiles and patience are all effective measures to calm them."

Chen Wendou, a passenger heading for central Hubei province, said she was greatly relieved after talking with Zhao.

"After several nights waiting in the cold waiting hall, I was at the verge of collapse," he was quoted as saying.;_ylt=ArADXnlalttlPGxbLshcXEqGWo14

Comment: Reports are that there are 800,000 people trapped at the Railway Station and bus stations in Guangzhou alone. I have received 2 e-mails over the past couple of days from people who have been caught in the bedlam in Guangzhou. Chinese New Year is often the only time that young migrant workers get to visit their families left back home in their native place all year. There are millions of children in rural villages anticipating the Festival and seeing their absent parents who work in cities.

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