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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Second wind for killer storms

January 31, 2008

Shanghai Daily
29 January 2008

A new round of blizzards threatened many parts of China yesterday after
severe snow and ice storms killed at least 24 people and stranded
hundreds of thousands during the nation's busiest holiday travel season.

The snow has caused a direct economic loss of 22.09 billion yuan
(US$3.07 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday.

Ten people were killed after houses collapsed under snow as 14 provinces
in central, southern and eastern China - regions accustomed to milder
winters - have been hit by snowstorms since January 10, the ministry said.

Another 10 died after slipping on icy streets. Two people drowned and
the other two were killed by falling trees.

The snowstorms, the worst in 50 years, have affected 77.87 million
people in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi, Henan, Hunan, Hubei, Guangxi,
Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai.

Chongqing Municipality and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have also
been hit by heavy snow.

More than 827,000 people have been relocated as more than 107,000 houses
collapsed during the past 18 days and another 399,000 were damaged, the
ministry said.

About 4.3 million hectares of crops were damaged. To make matters worse,
the China Meteorological Administration yesterday issued a "red alert''
for more snow in Hunan, Hubei, Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangsu.

About 500,000 people, most of them migrant workers, were stuck in the
southern city of Guangzhou because heavy snow had cut off parts of the
busy railway line to Beijing.

Officials were scrambling to find temporary shelter for the crowd, which
is swelling as more people try to return to their hometowns for the
Chinese New Year holiday, which starts on February 7.

Their quest looks to be in vain.
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