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5 rescued from Tibet snowstorm, 11 still stranded
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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.

(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2008)

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