UPDATES 1-Snow, freezing weather sweep northern China

Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:18am GMT

(Adds other airports affected, paragraph 3)

BEIJING, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Snow and freezing weather have swept large parts of northern China causing, travel chaos for thousands, state media and the meteorological department said on Sunday.

In Beijing's neighbouring city of Tianjin, all flights were cancelled at the Binhai International Airport due to heavy snow, which also sealed off road and rail links, state television said.

Airports in Qingdao and Jinan in Shandong province were also affected by snow, with many flights delayed, the official Xinhua news agency added.

Central Beijing was bright but windy, with lows of minus 12 degree centigrade, the China Meteorological Administration said on its website (www.cma.gov.cn).

But in parts of northeastern China the temperature plummeted up to 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 F) to minus 26 degrees Celsius and below, it added.

Northwestern Gansu and Shannxi provinces and the northern region of Inner Mongolia also experienced a sharp temperature drop, heavy snow and sleet, state television said.

The national weather forecaster said steep temperature falls, snow and sleet would continue to hit parts of central, eastern and southern China for the next two days.

Unseasonably cold weather and ice storms across central and southern China in earlier this year killed at least 129, caused transport chaos and cut off power and water for millions as people struggled to get home for Chinese New Year. (Reporting by Kitty Bu; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by David Fox)