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November 16, 2009

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32 killed as snow rocks nation

HEAVY snowstorms in north China have killed 32 people, destroyed nearly 300,000 hectares of winter crops, and caused almost 7 billion yuan (US$1.02 billion) of direct economic losses as of 2pm yesterday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The death toll did not include those who died in snow-caused traffic accidents, the ministry said. Ten died in Hebei Province, 12 in Henan Province, and the others in the provinces of Shanxi, Shandong and Shaanxi.

As of 2pm yesterday, more than 9.6 million people were affected by snowstorms, and 166,000 had been evacuated from their homes or stranded vehicles on roads, the ministry said. More than 15,000 buildings collapsed.

Heavy snow began to fall last Monday in northern and central Chinese provinces, including Hebei, Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Hubei and Shaanxi, and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

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

Local governments at all levels should make "practical efforts" to cope with cold weather and heavy snow, China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said yesterday.

The ministry issued a notification, asking local governments to ensure supplies of water, gas, and thermal heating in urban areas, and ensure coal supplies for heating enterprises.

Almost all of northern China is expected to experience continuing cold weather and gales, the National Meteorological Administration said yesterday.

Most of southern China will be covered by snow and rain, with Hubei and Anhui expecting storms, according to the administration's forecast.


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