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Backgrounder: Key damage caused by China's worst winter in five decades
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11:17, January 31, 2008

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· Yearender 2008
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Snow will continue in southwestern, eastern and southern China, while northern areas will be clear but windy over the next 10 days, the China Meteorological Administration forecast on Wednesday.

The heavy snow that has fallen since mid-January, the worst in 50 years in central, eastern and southern regions, has affected tens of millions of people. Following are some key effects of the severe weather:

LOSSES AND CASUALTIES

The extreme weather had affected more than 77.86 million peoplein 14 provinces by 2 p.m. on Monday. Direct economic losses were estimated at 22.09 billion yuan (about 3 billion U.S. dollars).

About 6.87 million hectares of crops were affected in 16 province-level areas as of Tuesday morning, with total crop failures of 735,333 ha.

The latest official figures showed that the bad weather had claimed 24 lives as of 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 28. However, a traffic accident in the southwestern province of Guizhou on Tuesday morning added 25 to the toll.

  TRANSPORTATION

Continuous icy rain and snowfall forced the closure of airports and expressways, in addition to train delays. This exacerbated the annual Spring Festival migration, which was chaotic even at the best of times.

Rail lines were paralyzed by the weather in some areas, with massive numbers of people stranded in railway stations.

On Monday, 19 airports including those serving provincial capitals such as Wuhan, Nanjing and Changsha were closed, with hundreds of flights postponed or canceled due to bad weather.

POWER SHORTAGES

China's 17 provincial-level regions adopted power-rationing measures as coal shortages cut power generation. Continuous freezing and snowy weather across large areas of China sharply raised electricity demand, but also hindered coal transportation, which exacerbated power shortages.

Power plants that produced 7 percent of the country's thermal power were shut down for lack of coal, the latest figures from the State Electricity Regulatory Commission showed.

Source: Xinhua



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