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New snow set to cause further havoc on roads
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The meteorological bureau of central China's Hunan Province warned on Friday that more heavy snow and black ice had increased the risk of road travel.

Snow fell in 13 counties and cities, including Jishou, Changde, Yiyang, Yueyang and Chenzhou, on Thursday night and Friday morning. Ningxiang county got the biggest dump at 16 millimeters.

The cold spell continued to wreak havoc in most parts of the province. In Changning County, ice on power cables was six cm thick.

The Hunan section of the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway, the country's key north-south trunk road, has been paralyzed by black ice, leaving tens of thousands of vehicles and people stranded for days in the cold winter.

The bureau said the temperature on all the province's highways was below freezing, and warned traffic delays could get worse.

Meanwhile, a section of the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway in northern Guangdong Province has been closed because of surface ice since Thursday night, despite continuous de-icing efforts by local authorities.

About 9,000 people and 2,800 vehicles were currently stranded in the section.

The Guangdong Provincial Price Bureau also imposed a ban on profiteering by hotels and inns along the expressway starting from today. The hotels and inns were told not to charge customers at prices higher than those before January 23, or they would face "severe punishment".

The bureau said they would annul the price ban when the disaster was over.

Unusual cold, heavy snow, sleet and icy rain have combined to hit 17 provinces and regions in central and southern China in the past two weeks, affecting the lives of millions.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Wednesday that 38 had been killed by collapsed roofs, slips and drowning since January 10.

Dozens of others had died in snow-related traffic accidents, according to reports from various provinces.

(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)

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