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China Snowstorm: Death Toll Could Be Much Higher

Posted by Author on February 5, 2008

BBC News, Saturday, 2 February 2008-

China’s government has warned people to brace for more bad weather as the country struggles to cope with the worst snow storms in over 50 years.

State weather services said the worst-hit provinces faced several more days of snow and freezing rain.

The crisis has affected an estimated 100 million people, and caused some 54bn yuan (£3.8bn) of damage.

The government has doubled the number of soldiers assigned to help with relief efforts, state media said.

More than 300,000 troops and almost 1.1 million reservists have been deployed.

‘Hidden toll’

“The most difficult period is still not over yet. The situation remains grim,” Premier Wen Jiabao said during a Cabinet meeting, the China Daily reported.

Officials say that emergency medical teams have treated over 200,000 sick and injured people, and that 60 people have died because of the cold.

But the true figures are likely to be much higher, says the BBC’s China editor Shirong Chen, who says the government is working hard to convince the public that it is in control of the situation.

Massive crowds of travellers remain stranded as they try to get home for next week’s Lunar New Year holiday.

In Guangzhou, people spent the night in the open in sub-zero temperatures and heavy rain as they waited at the city’s main train station.

The government has provided shelters, but they are not big enough for the hundreds of thousands of people still stuck there, the BBC’s Daniel Griffiths reports from the station.

Many of the stranded are poor migrant workers, for whom next week’s holiday is traditionally the only break they will get all year.

Crop concerns

Snow has been falling in central and southern regions for three weeks.

Officials have warned that many could face food shortages in the future as a result of wrecked winter crops.

With millions reported to be without water and electricity, the government has ordered coal production to be increased and imposed emergency price controls.

President Hu Jintao has visited coal mines to urge help to end the power shortages and Premier Wen Jiabao has been visiting stranded travellers in the south of the country.

But many are questioning the government’s ability to deal with the crisis, correspondents say.

Chenzhou, a city in Hunan province with a population of 4 million, has reportedly been without electricity for at least eight days.

China’s official Xinhua news agency quoted a national grid official as saying authorities would work to partially restore power supply to the city on Saturday.

– Original report from BBC News: China warns of more bad weather

One Response to “China Snowstorm: Death Toll Could Be Much Higher”

  1. herve76 said

    I am not surprised.

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