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21 April 2024

Death toll in China from cold snap reaches 107

By Agencies


The ferocious cold weather that struck southern China over the past month killed 107 people and caused over 15 billion dollars in economic losses, state media reported Wednesday.

Minister of Civil Affairs Li Xueju said the freezing temperatures, icy rain and heavy snow also led to about 1.5 million people having to be evacuated from dangerous situations, according to the Xinhua news agency.

In giving the most precise assessment yet of the impact of the worst winter weather seen in many parts of China for decades, Li said that, aside from the 107 people killed, eight others remained missing.

The economic losses were estimated at $15.4 billion, Xinhua cited Li as telling a government video conference.

He said 354,000 houses were destroyed along with nearly 24.4 million hectares (60.2 million acres) of farmland.

The freak weather caused a climate of national emergency in China, as the nation's power and transport networks were unable to cope, leaving many millions of people stranded in freezing temperatures.

It also came at the worst possible time, with the nation gearing up for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

The New Year, China's most important holiday, normally sees about 200 million migrant workers return home via train or bus to be reunited with their families.

But in Guangdong province alone, 12 million migrant workers were left stranded and denied what was likely their only opportunity for the year to return home. (AFP)