Mongolia blizzards 'worst for 50 years'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 12:00am

More than 30 people are dead or missing and 39 seriously injured as blizzards driven by fierce winter winds continue to hit north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Thousands face starvation as roads and other links remain blocked by snow.

Storms, described by the China Red Cross as the 'worst in 50 years' have also hit as many as 1.35 million people and 20 million hectares of grassland, said a report provided yesterday by the Red Cross in Inner Mongolia. More than 16,000 head of livestock have frozen to death.

The Xilin Gol Meng in the east, where 13 people froze to death and another 14 are missing, is the hardest-hit region.

Snow and sand storms hit 26 counties in the province, with Xilin Gol Meng, Hulun Buir Meng, and the cities of Chifeng, Hohhot and Tongliao in the eastern part blanketed by snow.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of Inner Mongolia has asked the central Government to provide up to 56 million yuan (HK$52.63 million) in immediate relief so people could survive the harsh conditions, said Ms Yu, a director of the Inner Mongolia Red Cross. Thousands were cut off and threatened with starvation, among them about 2,700 nomads, the Red Cross report said. Overseas donations of money, food, fuel and medicine would be 'very welcome', said Ms Yu, as central Government aid could be limited. 'We need a lot of help.'

So far, only 55,000 yuan in aid and 1,000 cotton blankets had been supplied by Red Cross, as well as medicine from a Guangdong pharmaceutical company.

The Hong Kong Red Cross and World Vision Hong Kong were monitoring the situation.

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs and Finance Ministry urged government departments to ensure those hit had a happy Lunar New Year.