Cold weather to continue for much of China

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Strong wind and temperature dips up to 12 degrees Celsius were expected to hit northern and eastern regions in China on Tuesday, the country's Central Meteorological Station (CMS) said on Monday.

From Monday night to Tuesday night, Inner Mongolia, northwest China, northeast China, and north China are to see strong wind with temperatures falling by 6 to 8 degrees Celsius.

Some areas in Gansu, Shanxi and Liaoning provinces may see temperatures fall by 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, according to the CMS.

The CMS also forecast cold weather to continue in north and northeast China, and in some southern regions during the next ten days.

Starting from Thursday, temperatures in eastern parts of the country are expected to rise, the CMS said.

The cold snap has strained coal and gas supplies in most parts of north China as the worst snowstorms in decades disrupted traffic and boosted demand.

As a result, electricity rationing continued in five provinces and municipalities, including the country's major coal producers of Shanxi, according to the National Power Dispatch and Communication Center.

As of Sunday, coal reserves in 598 major power plants were decreasing and could sustain for nine days. Coal storages in 205 power plants could not run for seven days, a national alarming level.

Power plants in the central province of Henan added 270,000 tonnes of thermal coal to their stockpile each day in January, 50,000 short of the daily consumption amount.

"We've never seen such a thermal coal supply crunch. It's beyond our imagination," said Zhang Dawei, Henan's vice governor.

Authorities in Henan provided coats and food for vagrant beggars and and offered free bus tickets for them return home over fears that they might die in cold on streets.

The cold weather also has left more than 1,000 km of the 5,464-km-long Yellow River, China's second largest, frozen, with ice of up to 50 cm thick.

The local authorities have removed more than 40 floating bridges across the river in the lower reaches to ensure a smooth ice flow.

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