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Alarm removed in snow-hit areas
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China's State Disaster Relief Commission and the Ministry of Civil Affairs have canceled emergence alarms in seven provinces ravaged by the worst blizzards and winter storms in decades as of Friday.


"Currently, the Spring Festival traffic peak and the power grid reconstruction is going on smoothly, and the shortage of coal supply for power plants has been eased," the special command under the State Council for the relief of the disaster said on Saturday.


The situation in the seven southern regions, including Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi and Jiangxi, were gradually back to normal, according to the center.


By 4:00 p.m. Friday, traffic on major national highways once closed by the freezing weather had all resumed normal.


Power supply has been restored for 88 percent of the customers in Hunan and 95 percent of those in Jiangxi by China Grid.


China Southern Power Grid also restored electricity for 21.84 million people, or 88.3 percent of its customers. More than 93 percent of households in Guangdong and Guangxi now have electricity.


Li Pumin, spokesman for the special command said priority should be put on the reconstruction of infrastructure facilities so as to restore agricultural and industrial production and the life of disaster-hit people as soon as possible.


The scale of the disaster has been immense. Li Luguo, vice minister of civil affairs, said Friday that 354,000 homes had collapsed, and a further 1.4 million damaged. Reconstruction will not be complete until June, he said.


Zhang Yuxiang, chief economist of the Ministry of Agriculture, said on Friday that 69 million farm animals had died, 30 percent of vegetable land and 40 percent of rapeseed crop had been affected.


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday: "crops in the disaster areas were ruined en masse and people face serious livelihood difficulties."


The strain on the power grid is also a concern for Wen. He said: "the strain of coal supplies for power plants has not been fundamentally resolved".


Wen called for increased coal production, subsidies for farmers and stable food and petrol supplies.


(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2008


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