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Five people rescued from Tibet snowstorm, 11 still stranded

January 22, 2008

     LHASA, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Five people stranded by a snowstorm in
Tibet Autonomous Region were rescued early on Sunday morning, while 11
rescue team members remained trapped for a third day, a local police
spokesman said.

     The five were found in two vehicles on Saturday night in the Ngari
Prefecture suffering altitude sickness symptoms after being trapped more
than seven hours, said spokesman Kang Jinai. It took rescuers four hours
to evacuate them to nearby Shiquanhe town.

     Snow began hitting the area on Friday with the maximum depth
exceeding 30 centimeters. Traffic on the Ngari section of the
mountainous highway linking Xinjiang and Tibet has been blocked since
that day.

     By Sunday noon, local police and government staff had rescued 61
stranded persons.

     However, an 11-member team, previously sent to save others stranded
by the snow, ended up getting stuck themselves by the heavy snow on
Friday. They are in good shape, however, for they had brought with them
sufficient provisions and medicine.

     An operation to rescue them was hindered by low temperature and
poor visibility.

     Ngari Prefecture, with an average height of 4,500 meters above sea
level, is very sensitive to climate change because of its high altitude
on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
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