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Strong gales deter tourists in Yunnan
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Strong gales sweeping the Yulong Snow Mountain in Yunnan Province since last Friday have damaged hundreds of homes and deterred tourists from one of southwest China's best known attractions.


The gales, sweeping at up to 108 kilometers an hour from Sunday to Thursday, have damaged at least 360 homes in the mountainous Jiazi community, 3,000 meters above sea level, blowing away roofs and toppling walls, said the government of the Naxi autonomous county of Yulong, in the scenic city of Lijiang.


The winds weakened to about 72 kilometers an hour on Friday, but showed no sign of ending imminently.


About 2,140 people in 19 villages have been affected, but no deaths or injuries were reported.


The local government has evacuated almost all the 100 or so villagers in Yiwanshui, the worst affected village, to temporary lodging in the urban areas of Lijiang, and the rest of the residents are living with relatives in safer areas.


The strong gales also damaged facilities along a cableway to the top of the Yulong Snow Mountain glacier, the best-known tourist attraction in Yunnan Province. The glacier receives almost 7,000 tourists a day on average during holidays.


The local tourism bureau said the region had been closed to tourists, and gave no timetable for its reopening.


Most Chinese regions are recovering from three weeks of the worst winter weather in five decades across central, southern and eastern provinces in mid-January.


The National Meteorological Center has forecast rain, sleet or snow in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan and the Tibet Autonomous Region in the coming week.


(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)


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