Millions of Chinese began the biggest holiday of the year without power on Wednesday but tens of thousands of stranded passengers had found trains, buses and planes to get back home for family reunions.
Scores have died in snow-related accidents in the run-up to the Lunar New Year break, one of the greatest annual migrations of humanity, with the traditional travel chaos compounded by the coldest winter in 100 years across vast swathes of south, central and eastern China.
Whole cities have had their power and water cut off for more than a week and 11 electricians have been killed trying to reconnect lines or break ice encasing poles and cables. Livestock and crops have been destroyed.
Chenzhou, a city in the central province of Hunan and the worst hit, began its 12th day without power on Wednesday.
"It is now connected with the provincial power grid, and its 4 million residents are likely to see power and water supply resume later on Wednesday," Xinhua news agency said.
More than 5,000 electricians, including 2,000 summoned from other provinces, were struggling to repair damaged power lines and pylons.
About 1,000 pylons and poles had collapsed under the weight of ice and snow, which means the local grid, that took decades to build, had effectively been destroyed, Xinhua said.