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Nation hit by new snow, sleet
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Several Chinese cities had a brutally cold morning on Tuesday as temperatures plummeted amid snow and sleet storms.

The central city of Wuhan in Hubei Province shivered as temperatures fell by 19 degrees Celsius within 48 hours. Near Wuhan, the death toll from a coach accident caused by the weather has risen. As of Monday night, eight people were known to have died in the incident, the latest being a severely injured man who died en route to hospital.

The coach overturned on an icy road near the city, injuring 20 people.

In Qingdao, in the eastern province of Shandong, snow forced several expressways to close temporarily. More than 160 people were sent to de-ice the roads.

In tropical Hainan Province, which lies off China's southern coast, a new cold front led to a temperature plunge after a 26-day rainy spell. Hainan Provincial Meteorological Observatory issued a yellow-level fog and rain warning to remind drivers of harsh road conditions.

In southwest China's Yunnan, which is known for its mild weather, the local meteorological station has warned residents of a heavy snowfall in the coming days.

The snowfall was expected to affect tourist resorts such as Xishuangbanna and Lijiang, where the evergreen plants and picturesque landscapes have drawn a large magnitude of visitors from home and abroad.

In some areas in Yunnan, continuous sleet is still playing havoc, disrupting the repair of the damaged pylons and telecommunication infrastructure.

More than 1.1 million phone and Internet subscribers have been affected.

In Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern Guizhou, ice and snow caused massive damage to dozens of cultural heritage sites. Local officials said that seven of the prefecture's eight national cultural heritage sites were affected. Twenty-two of the 47 provincial cultural heritage sites in the prefecture were also damaged.

The government estimated the total area of heritage buildings damaged at 34,220 square meters, with losses at all cultural heritage sites exceeding 26 million yuan (3.6 million U.S. dollars).

The southern coastal Guangdong Province reported 410,000 tons of dead fish and other seafood as the cold front moved in. Fishery authorities estimated the loss at 5 billion yuan.

The eastern Jiangsu and Shandong provinces have both seen snow and sleet. Snow has stuck to the ground in the northern parts of Jiangsu and Shandong, snarling traffic on the slick and sloppy streets.

The local meteorological authority issued an ice warning.

The eastern Shanghai Municipality was receiving sleet, and the local meteorology department forecast that the spell would last for two days, followed by strong winds and plunging temperatures.

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)

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