|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Home > News > First Look
Snowstorms paralyse China
January 30, 2008
Over 4.5 lakh Chinese troops and paramilitary personnel have spread out to regions battered by snowstorms, which showed no signs of let up on Wednesday as the nation faced its harshest winter in five decades.
With millions of people across half of China reeling under the worst snowfall in five decades, the Chinese People's Liberation Army has ordered its troops to go all out to bring succour to the affected by joining hands with local authorities.
Nearly 158,000 PLA troops and the Chinese People Armed Police and 303,000 paramilitary personnel have joined in the 'anti snow battle', official Xinhua news agency reported as the death toll due to heavy snowfall rose to 49.
The heavy snow and sleet, which have paralysed transport, caused power blackouts and stranded millions of passengers heading home for a family reunion during the coming Spring Festival, the China meteorological administration said in Beijing [Images].
Impeded supplies have fuelled price rise in the affected regions, where authorities are coming under increasing strain in coping with the effects of the disaster and keeping the people calm, particularly millions of stranded passengers whose most-cherished once a year trip on Chinese New Year is facing uncertainty.
The Spring Festival sees one of the world's biggest annual mass migrations, bringing authorities under cracking pressure even under normal circumstances. Provinces in central and northwest China have reported more losses from heavy snow, Xinhua said. In northwestern Shaanxi province alone, 1,200 people were reportedly ill or injured in snow-related incidents, it said.
The snow has affected more than 77.86 million people in 14 provinces, including Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao rushed to Hunan province to oversee disaster relief work and President Hu Jintao chaired a meeting of the Communist Party of China's Political Bureau Central Committee on relief efforts on Tuesday, reflecting the magnitude of the grimness of the situation.
Image: Tourists at the South Gate of the Xian City Wall after a snowstorm in Xian at Shaanxi Province in China.
Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images