Provinces brace for snowstorm battering

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am

Guangxi and Gansu authorities have stepped up disaster relief efforts with heavy snowfalls, icy rain and strong winds forecast to hit more provinces on the mainland.

The National Meteorological Centre said a third round of bad weather had returned to hit provinces and cities in the west and east of the country. In the next five days, the Tibetan plateau, Shaanxi , Anhui , Sichuan , Henan and Hebei would continue to be hit by heavy snows.

The centre said bad weather had halted bus services across the nation and had hindered millions of migrant workers hoping to return home for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Temperatures in Guangxi had dropped to their lowest level in 15 years, with 1.48 million people in Guilin , Liuzhou and 25 other cities and counties affected, China News Service said yesterday.

It said at least 120,000 people had been stranded, 120,000 hectares of crops frozen and 1,980 houses had collapsed or been damaged, causing 180 million yuan of direct economic losses. The Guangxi Civil Affairs Department sent five rescue teams to the worst-hit areas to deal with the aftermath on Wednesday.

In Gansu , the provincial meteorological bureau continued to sound a 'red warning' in many cities yesterday following a week of snowstorms, with temperatures in Jiuquan , Jiayuguan and Zhangye forecast to drop to minus 24 degrees Celsius.

The warning has been in effect since last Saturday. The bureau said main roads and rail tracks connecting the provincial capital Lanzhou with the outside world were expected to remain frozen into next week.

Heavy snow has also spread into the Yangtze River region, while Jiangsu province was also expected to be hit by snowstorms in the next three days, the National Meteorological Centre said yesterday.

Yunnan , which had suffered from droughts for months, was also warned to expect heavy falls.