The back-to-back blizzards and icy rains that struck southern
China in the past month have killed at least 107 people and left
eight missing, as of Tuesday, a senior official said Wednesday.
The disaster has also caused direct economic losses of about 111
billion yuan (US$15.4 billion), Civil Affairs Minister Li Xueju
He said 21 provincial-level areas had been affected, with Hunan,
Guizhou, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces and
the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region the worst hit.
About 1.5 million people have been evacuated and more than 1.9
million travelers were stranded at some point.
The extreme weather affected close to 24.4 million hectares of
farmland, with crop failure in 168 hectares of farmland, and led to
the destruction of more than 350,000 homes.
Also, 18.6 million hectares of forest have been damaged in 19
snow-afflicted regions including Hunan and Hubei provinces.
The snowstorms, the worst in five decades and up to a century in
some areas, caused deaths, building collapses, blackouts,
accidents, transport problems and livestock and crop loss in the
country's eastern, central and southern regions for about a
Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday chaired an executive meeting of the
State Council and warned of "arduous tasks" for the hardest-hit
areas to recover.
"Some major power grids have yet to be repaired. The straining
of coal supplies for electricity plants has not been fundamentally
resolved," Wen said at the meeting.
The premier urged local governments to put restoring power
supply as the top priority. Local electricity networks should be
repaired and work normally by the end of next month, Wen said.
He said efforts should be made to mobilize and organize farmers
to prepare for the spring farming season, as crops in most
disaster-stricken areas will bear no harvest.
Meanwhile, production and transportation of coal for power
generation should continue to be guaranteed, and efforts must be
made to help victims, he said.
President Hu Jintao has ordered all of the country's military
forces to continue supporting reconstruction work in snow-hit
The disaster is also testing insurance firms, which have paid
out more than 1 billion yuan on claims stemming from the severe
weather in south and central China, the China Insurance Regulatory
Commission (CIRC) said Wednesday.
More than 855 million yuan were on property claims and more than
56 million yuan on health and life policies.
The power sector received about 254 million yuan and the farming
sector 40 million yuan, the CIRC said in a bulletin.
Meteorologists forecast a warm-up for most areas south of the
Yangtze River in the coming days, which could help the thawing of
piled snow and ice.
(Chinadaily.com.cn February 14, 2008)