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China suffers power shortage as winter storm brings chaos
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As of Sunday, 17 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have suffered blackouts, and power grids in central China's Hubei, Hunan provinces and south China's Guizhou and Guangdong provinces have been seriously damaged.

More than 30 million people have been affected by the snow-triggered power shortage, which is blacking out provinces, including the populous eastern Anhui and Jiangsu and southern Guangdong, according to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs.

In southwestern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, villagers turned to coal oil for illumination after the power had been cut off amid the heavy snow.

"I bought 200 kilograms of coal oil from the county yesterday and so far more than 30 kg has been sold," said Tang Libing, a retailer who lives in Baibao village.

Candles, charcoal and coalballs have also made a comeback in Guangxi villages where electricity has been cut off.

Continuous snow have also affected the power supply in eastern Shanghai Municipality, the country's financial hub.

"To make up for the lack of power, we will buy electricity from neighboring provinces by any means, no matter what it takes," Zhou Yongxing, head of Shanghai Municipal Power Company was quoted by the local First Financial Daily as saying.

In the booming province of Guangdong, workers are busy fixing the power grid disconnected by the heavy snow and strong winds.

"We will do our best to ensure the power supply during the Spring Festival," said Yuan Maozhen, board chairman of the South China Power Grid Company, referring to the most important festival in China which is only a week away.

More than 4,150 power lines that belong to the company were disrupted by the snow.

By Tuesday noon, nearly 100,000 railway passengers had been stranded in Guangzhou because the southern end of the Beijing-Guangzhou rail line, a north-south trunk railway, has been paralyzed by heavy snow in central Hunan Province, where power transmission facilities have been knocked out.

On Wednesday morning, China's Premier Wen Jiabao arrived at the Guangzhou Train Terminal to help direct the province's disaster relief work and to see conditions himself.

"We are working on the power shortage," Wen told passengers stranded in the waiting halls.

"As soon as the power supply resumes, everything will go smoothly," he added.

In Guizhou, 12 cities and counties were still in the dark with another 19 having only partial power supplies.

Brutal winter storms have wracked the border regions in southwestern Yunnan Province, cutting off power supplies, paralyzing traffic and disabling communications.

The snow storm on Tuesday dumped up to one-meter snow in the Gongshan County of Nujiang Lisuzu Autonomous Region, on the Sino-Burma border, making at least four towns inaccessible.

The power failure left more than 35,000 people in the dark when the destructive snowstorm knocked down 140 10-kv utility poles in the county.

The snow storm has also caused damage to water pipes, roads and telecommunication cables in the region.

The snow, the heaviest in a decade in many places, has been falling in China's east, central and southern regions since Jan. 10, causing death, structural collapses, power blackouts, highway closures and crop destruction.

(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2008)



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