Frost signals coldest winter solstice on record

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 December, 1999, 12:00am

Freezing temperatures brought frost to parts of Hong Kong for the first time in eight years yesterday.

As the mercury dropped to its lowest this year, ice appeared at Tate's Cairn and Tai Mo Shan, where the temperature plunged to 3.3 degrees Celsius. The Observatory recorded a temperature of 6.7 degrees in urban areas, making yesterday's winter solstice the coldest on record.

An intense winter monsoon passing through the mainland and Siberia is likely to see the cold snap continue today. It would be particularly cold in the early morning and after midnight, an Observatory spokesman said.

A frost warning was issued yesterday and farmers were urged to step up crop protection.

The deaths of two more elderly men yesterday were linked to the cold, bringing the death toll to 47 so far this week.

A man, 85, was found lying unconscious in his Kwun Tong home, while an 82-year-old collapsed at home in Park Road, Mid-Levels, after lunch.

And an 80-year-old woman was fighting for her life last night after suffering severe burns when she set newspapers alight to keep warm in her flat in Canton Road, Yau Ma Tei.

A total of 186 people took refuge at the 13 government shelters last night. Calls for ambulances from the Fire Services Department soared to 1,400, up 17 per cent from the average figure. Fourteen government hospitals have received about 5,000 patients in the past few days.