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11 electricians die for restoring snow-hit power supply
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A total of 11 electricians have so far died in the course of their duty bringing power supply back to regions blacked out by the worst snowstorm to hit China in more than five decades.

Of the total, nine were from the State Grid Corp of China and two were from the smaller China Southern Power Grid, Xinhua learned late Monday.

China's rescue workers had managed to restore electricity supply to 17.68 million households in 51 counties by Monday noon.

The severe winter weather has killed dozens of people and disrupted transport and power supplies in a large swathe of China's southern, central and eastern regions.

It had killed 60 people and inflicted a direct economic loss of about 53.8 billion yuan (US$7.5 billion) by Jan. 31, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA).

The severe weather, coupled with foggy weather in southern China, has forced the cancellation of 47 flights and delayed another 1,006 in the one day to 4 p.m. on Monday, the General Administration of Civil Affairs of China (CAAC) said.

All the airports in the snowstorm-hit regions, except the small regional ones at Tongren and Liping of Guizhou, had reopened on Monday, according to the CAAC.

The number of passengers stranded at Guangzhou railway station stood at 80,000 on Monday, 12,000 fewer than a day earlier and sharply lower from its peak of 800,000 last week.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Monday allocated another 700 million yuan (US$97.3 million) in relief funds to seven regions hardest hit by the snowstorm and freezing rain, including Guizhou, Jiangxi and Hubei.

The MOF and MOCA also earmarked 710 million yuan of allowance subsidies to the poor in the seven regions. The urban poor in the regions will each receive 15 yuan in monthly temporary subsidy and the rural poor 10 yuan over the three months starting from February.

The Chinese government has stepped up relief efforts as the snowstorm is forecast to continue to ease in the coming five days before a milder snowy and rainy weather hits southern regions from Feb. 10.

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2008)

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