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3 Japanese tourists die in China snowstorm

The Japanese visitors were trapped while crossing a remote section of the Great Wall

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 3:12am

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Three Japanese tourists died in the snowstorm that hit Beijing and neighbouring regions over the weekend while crossing an undeveloped section of the Great Wall in Huailai county, in Hebei province, local authorities said yesterday.

Four Japanese tourists - three women and one man - and a male Chinese tour guide became trapped in the heavy snow on Saturday night. The 25-year-old guide and a 59-year-old woman survived, but the other three were confirmed dead, according to the Huailai government's publicity department. The bodies of the two women, aged 62 and 68, were found on Sunday night, and rescuers found the body of the man, aged 76, yesterday.

The five started climbing a mountain that borders Beijing and Hebei on Saturday morning, but became trapped that night inside a beacon tower, according to the guide, who works for a Japanese tour agency and managed to get down from the mountain and call the police.

Huailai government officials organised a search party of about 150 people. Both survivors were in stable condition, with some frostbite on their hands and jaws. Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, expressed thanks to the Chinese side for the help and support it offered in the tragedy.

In Beijing, the Beijing-Tibet Highway remained closed yesterday amid clean-up work.

In the capital's worst-hit area, suburban Yanqing county, workers were still busy repairing power lines and unblocking roads.

It was the biggest snowstorm to hit the county since 1960. About 7,000 households lost power as outages hit 57 villages. An estimated 100,000 farm animals died and the storm felled more than 70,000 trees.

Panic buying in the county cleared supermarket shelves of vegetables, including at Walmart and Jingkelong stores.

The unusually early snow also pushed up vegetable prices at Beijing's biggest wholesale farm-produce market, Xinfadi, the Legal Evening News reported.

Additional reporting by AFP