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Yunnan continues to suffer from snow havoc
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Southwest China's Yunnan Province continues to suffer from snow and sleet, despite emergency alarms being cancelled in seven other provinces and regions.

Between Jan. 9 and 4 p.m on Feb. 19, a total of 11.69 million people have been affected by the winter weather, up from the 10.12 million people figure on Feb. 16, said Li Guocai, a Yunnan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs official.

The disaster has claimed 22 lives and left four missing in the province, damaged 800,000 hectares of crops and toppled 39,000 houses, the official said. About 288,000 people were relocated.

Yunnan's economic loss from the disaster stood at 5.08 billion yuan (709 million U.S. dollars), including 3.75 billion yuan in agriculture losses.

China pledged to normalize life and production in snow-hit provinces as early as possible at an executive meeting a week ago to make arrangements for rebuilding in these areas.

The meeting by the State Council, China's Cabinet, marked a turning point in the country's shift in focus from disaster relief to reconstruction of the badly hit areas.

The State Disaster Relief Commission and the Ministry of Civil Affairs have canceled emergency alarms in seven provinces and autonomous regions ravaged by the worst blizzards and winter storms in decades as of Friday, as the situation in Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi and Jiangxi was gradually back to normal.

Disasters caused by prolonged low temperatures, icy rain and heavy snow in the southern part of China in the past month have killed 107 people and left eight others missing as of Feb. 12, Civil Affairs Minister Li Xueju said last week.

The country's direct economic loss was estimated at 111.1 billion yuan, Li said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2008)

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