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Power, coal supply continue to resume
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Power supply and coal reserves continued to resume in China on Monday, while the government has been exerting efforts to maintain price stability after a worst-in-decades snow snarl.

A total of 22.12 million households, or 93.1 percent of those deprived of power during the snow storm, had regained access to electricity by Monday, said the Disaster Relief and Emergency Command Center under the State Council on Monday night.

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Reserves of coal for power generation increased 800,000 tons to 23.1 million tons on Sunday, equaling 12 days' supply for the country's power plants, said the command center.

It said in a statement that government departments had beefed up coal transportation as coal shipments from north China's four major ports hit a record high of 1.42 million tons on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the average wholesale price of vegetables on Monday fell for the third day consecutively, down 0.3 percent from Sunday, but prices of most vegetables rose in the provinces of Hunan, Anhui and Sichuan, all severely hit by the cold chill, according to the command center.

Figures from the Ministry of Commerce showed egg, beef and mutton prices saw a small drop while prices of edible oil and small-packages of rice went up slightly on Monday.

The command center said market prices were basically stable, urging disaster-hit areas to resume vegetable production and increase supply as soon as possible.

"Snow and ice have caused heavy losses to agriculture, especially vegetable production, in some regions," it said.

The command center required local governments to expand the planting area of vegetables in the south for supplying the north and increase vegetable production in green houses.

Transport departments have rushed food to snow-hit regions to ensure supply and keep prices stable during the ongoing holiday week to celebrate the Spring Festival, the most important traditional festival in China.

From Jan. 25 to Sunday, railways shipped 113,000 cars of food like grains, vegetables and fruits to disaster-hit regions, said the command center.

China's transport systems are only just creaking back to life after freak cold and ice storms hit swathes of the country since mid-January, causing billions of dollars in damage and killing at least 80 people.

A total of 340,000 armed policemen had been dispatched to help disaster relief work across the country by 5 p.m. Monday, while 6.56 million stranded passengers and disaster-hit residents had been rescued by Monday, said the command center.

The National Development and Reform Commission said Monday it had allocated an urgent assistance fund of 45 million yuan on Saturday for emergency repair of water supply equipment and power networks in regions badly beaten by the freezing weather, including Chongqing, Yunnan, Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

A total assistance fund of 205 million yuan had been put into reconstruction in disaster-hit areas as of Saturday, said the commission.

(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2008)

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