Millions brace for icy weather

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Millions of residents and thousands of hectares of crops across China have been affected by icy rain and freezing temperatures as the cold snap, which will last for the next 10 days, took hold.

Millions brace for icy weather

Students carrying portable stoves walk to school on frozen mountain roads in Xinhuang county, Hunan province, on Thursday. A cold snap has gripped the southern part of Hunan for days, forcing school students to keep warm with homemade stoves. [Photo/Xinhua] 

More than 4 million people have been hit hard and 60,000 have been displaced from their ruined homes because of the bad weather in Guizhou, Jiangxi, Hunan and Sichuan provinces and Chongqing municipality, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Friday.

Meanwhile, the weather has damaged more than 142,000 hectares of crops, with 11,800 hectares unable to produce a harvest.

In Huaihua city, Hunan province, the municipal government ordered education institutions in the worst-hit areas to suspend classes until the severe weather ends and ice in the streets melts.

The January end of term examination has been postponed.

The authorities urged schools to ensure supply of life essentials to keep boarding students warm.

Starting on Saturday, a new wave of cold weather and icy rain is expected to hit Huaihua. It will last until next Tuesday, according to a local weather forecast.

In Guilin city, in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, a new cold snap that began on Thursday has led to the suspension of power supplies and the closing of roads. The harsh weather also led to the temporary closure of local schools.

Li Hongjie, headmaster of a primary school at Baibao township, Guilin, said on Friday that seven of the nine primary schools at Baibao had closed on orders from the local education bureau.

"The ice on the ground made students' journeys home dangerous and we could only ensure their safety by suspending classes," he said.

The power supply to some of the stricken areas has been restored, authorities said.

By Friday more than 970,000 residents in Guangxi had been affected by the weather, including 737 who had fallen ill, said local disaster relief departments.

In Shaoguan city, in Guangdong province, at least 37 primary and middle schools closed on Thursday due to freezing temperatures and undersupply of central heating. More than 13,000 students were affected.

Students in Chongqing and Hunan had to take portable stoves to stay warm at school.

More cold snaps and freezing rain are expected to hit parts of South and Southwest China over the next 10 days, although they will not be as intense as the recent weather, according to the latest forecast by the National Meteorological Center.

Icy rain and freezing temperatures began to strike several provinces across South China at the beginning of the month, causing traffic deadlocks and accidents, power blackouts and school closures.

Related departments such as rail and energy in areas not yet hit by the big freeze are fully prepared, especially as the Chinese New Year approaches.

In North China sea ice interrupted major economic activities, including offshore drilling and fishing in the Bohai and Yellow seas on Friday.

The ice measured 9,795 square kilometers, said the metrological bureau of Northeast China's Liaoning province on Friday.

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