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Power blackout hits 17 provinces
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A worker bulldozes snow on a highway in Gongshan, Yunnan Province, yesterday. The snow has cut power and traffic to four of Gongshan's five townships.

Most parts of China are in dire need of power amid severe disruptions caused by the prolonged snow, rain and cold weather.

Seventeen provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have suffered blackouts, and power grids in central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces and south China's Guizhou and Guangdong provinces had been seriously damaged.

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

In the southwestern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, villagers turned to coal oil for lighting.

"I bought 200 kilograms of coal oil from the county yesterday and so far more than 30 kilograms 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.

In Guizhou, 12 cities and counties were still in the dark with another 19 having only partial power supplies. A total of 472 power substations ceased operation and 12 electric rail lines were affected in the province.

In Guangdong, workers are busy fixing the power grid where more than 4,150 power lines were hit by snow. "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.

Blocked roads and railways have also choked coal shipments. Most power plants, which had just two days of coal left, resort to sea routes for shipping in emergency coal supplies.

About 4.5 million tons of coal is expected to arrive at Guangzhou ports on 125 cargo ships, some of which had canceled international missions to assist in coal shipping from north to south, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

However, it will still take 15 days for ships from Bohai Bay in north China to reach Guangzhou. Ten cargo ships will arrive in the next three days, the newspaper said.

"More cargo terminals will be opened to increase the capacity of the port," said Chen Hongxian, board chairman of Guangzhou Port Group.

Brutal storms have hit border regions in southwest China's Yunnan Province, cutting off power, paralyzing traffic and disabling communications.

Snow on Tuesday fell up to one meter deep in Gongshan area of Yunnan, cutting off at least four towns.

(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)


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