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19 die amid heavy snow in north, central China

HEAVY snow unseen in decades has resulted in 19 deaths in north and central China since Monday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced today.

The death toll in seven provinces did not include the 19 who died in traffic accidents, said a statement posted on the ministry's Website.

It did not detail the causes of the deaths, but four children had been reported dead when two school canteens collapsed after heavy snow in Hebei and Henan provinces since Wednesday.

Almost 160,000 people had been stranded on roads or evacuated from their homes, the statement said.

More than 7,000 buildings collapsed and more than 2 million mu (133,000 hectares) of crops were affected, causing direct economic losses of around 3.5 billion yuan (US$513 million).

Heavy snow began to fall on Monday on north and central Chinese provinces, including Hebei, Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Hubei, Shaanxi provinces and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Beijing also experienced heavy snow, but no deaths had been reported so far.


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