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Avalanches, Mudslides in Tibet Leave Two Dead
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Two people are reported dead after days of rain and snow triggered avalanches and mudslides in two remote counties in eastern Tibet.


At about 4 P.M. Wednesday, three people digging caterpillar fungus were buried by a sudden avalanche near a highway in Zayu County of Nyingchi Prefecture. An 18-year-old woman was confirmed dead, while the other two were rescued.


A snowslide in Baxoi County, Qamdo Prefecture also killed one and injured another on Wednesday morning. Twelve villages in the county have been affected by severe snowfall and avalanches.


More than 10 avalanches on Wednesday and Thursday cut traffic in the Niutagou section of No.318 highway linking Tibet and neighboring Sichuan Province. Luckily, no people or vehicles have been trapped.


Repair work on the highway has been expedited but local sources said it was difficult to say when the road would be reopened, as snow continues to fall.


Avalanches and mudslides also blocked the only highway to Zayu County, isolating more than 22,000 people.


"The extent of damage to villages and towns is not clear as communication between the county seat and those places has been severed," said an official who declined to give his name.


Zayu has received more than 140 millimeters of rainfall since Monday, more than half the county's monthly average for May, according to the official.


Located in southeastern Tibet, Zayu County borders India and Myanmar and has a total population of 26,200, including 22,700 farmers and herders living in remote villages. More than 70 percent are Tibetan.


More than 1,000 cubic meters of snow covered a 90-meter-long stretch of the highway, while the mudslide left a 35-meter-deep gully on another section of the road, he said.


The Nyingchi prefecture government and the neighboring county of Bomi has sent work crews to repair the highway and communication facilities.


The local government has also sent relief supplies including food and quilts to the affected area, said the official.


The regional weather office predicted lighter rain for Friday.


(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2007)


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