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January 20, 2010

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Islanders cut off by sea ice

WORSENING sea ice has completely isolated a populated island on the Bohai Sea off northeast China's Liaoning Province, stranding more than 3,200 people.

Ye Qinghua, head of the police station on Juhua Island, said people had food and other necessities, but they were short of drinking water.

"There are not enough fuel stocks for heating, and some sections of the water pipeline are frozen, cutting water supply to some residents here," Ye said.

A doctor on the island, surnamed Li, said the island's medical facilities were not good enough for surgery and this presented a danger if anyone needed emergency treatment.

The 13.5-square-kilometer island is the largest in Liaodong Bay. It is only 7.5km from Xingcheng City.

Ferry traffic to and from the island was suspended on January 5, because of the ice.

The Bohai Sea is suffering from the worst sea ice in four decades, which covers up to 40 percent of its surface.

Wang Hua, a marine weather forecast official with the State Oceanic Administration, said that the ice would continue to expand this week, with another cold front expected in the area from today.

Some residents have been trying to walk or ride across the ice to the island but this is forbidden by the local government. It has warned them that the ice could crack at any time.

The ice has affected marine transport, fishing, aquatic breeding and offshore mining in Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong provinces and Tianjin Municipality.

Wang Weiliang, head of the Marine Fishing Bureau in Yingkou City, Liaoning, said the harbor in Yingkou, dubbed China's northernmost ice-free port, was covered by ice up to a meter thick.

He said more than 300 fishing boats were stranded in the port by the ice.

Yuan Zongxiang, director of the Shandong Province Marine Affairs Bureau, said the bureau had sent helicopters to monitor the situation.


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