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18.6 mln ha of forest damaged in winter storm
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The extreme weather that hit China in recent weeks has damaged 18.6 million hectares of forest in 19 snow-afflicted provincial regions, the State Forestry Administration announced here Wednesday.

The total included 6.83 million ha of bamboo, 11.62 million ha of woods and 15,333 ha of saplings, according to the administration.

The 19 provincial-level areas plagued by snow and cold weather were Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Guangxi, Jiangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Gansu, Xinjiang, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan.

The administration has earmarked 4.3 million yuan (597,200 U.S. dollars) as a supplement to the 30 million yuan designated by the Central Government to support forestry sector relief work.

Freaky winter storms have plagued southern China since mid-January, leading to widespread traffic jams, structural collapse, blackouts and crop loss. It also killed at least 80 people and affected about 100 million residents, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Approximately seven million ha of farmland, mainly located in the mid and downstream areas of the Yangtze River, was hit by the snow. About 753,333 million ha lost all their output, according to Ministry of Agriculture statistics released on Jan. 31.

Experts believed a phenomenon called La Nina aggravated the freak weather.

Zheng Guoguang, head of China Meteorological Administration, said earlier that La Nina was a large pool of unusually cold water in the equatorial Pacific that developed every few years and influenced global weather. It is the climatic opposite of El Nino, a warming of the Pacific.

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2008)

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