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January 24, 2010

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7 dead in snow blizzard

THE bodies of seven people missing in a blizzard in Altay, in northwest China's Xinjiang, were found by rescuers yesterday.

The six men and one woman were discovered at 4:50pm in the Xemirxek Township in Altay. They could not be retrieved due to bad weather, officials of Xinjiang regional emergency office said.

The rescue team planned to move the bodies by helicopter to Altay City this morning to confirm their identities.

The victims were part of a group of 23 illegal gold diggers who were caught in a snowstorm on January 13 when trying to leave Halahate, a remote mountainous area in Altay Region.

Only two members of the group managed to reach Zuhalagai, also in Altay, and they sustained serious frostbite. Fourteen others were rescued by an emergency military airlift on Thursday.

Ten rescuers were flown into Xemirxek in two military helicopters yesterday morning to search for the missing.

Ground access to the area has been cut off by snowfalls of up to 2 meters in the township, about 120 kilometers from downtown Altay.

Blizzards and extreme cold since late December are seriously affecting transport in Xinjiang.

The latest cold snap in northern Xinjiang pulled down temperatures to nearly minus 46 degrees Celsius.


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