Sunday, Nov 15th, 2009
Unusually early snowstorms in northern China have stranded tens of thousands of vehicles and motorists, led to the deaths of 38 people, forced the evacuation of 158,000 people, and forced delays or cancellation of hundreds of flights in several cities, including China’s capital city, Beijing.
The snow – heaviest in the area since records began – has caused more than half a billion dollars in damage, including the collapse of more than 7,000 buildings and damage to 297,000 acres (120,000 hectares) of crops, the Civil Affairs Ministry said Friday.
In Hebei province, three children died after the roof of their canteen collapsed under the weight of the snow. Another 28 were hospitalized.
Another child died in neighbouring Henan province and seven were injured, again when the roof the school canteen collapsed. Three of the students are in a critical condition.
This is the second year and a row that China has been hammered by massive snowstorms. About 20 months ago, the most severe snowstorm in five decades in southern China caused an estimated $22 billion in direct economic losses, destroying 29.4 million acres (11.9 million hectares) of cropland, and forcing the government to hand out 63.3 billion yuan of subsidies to farmers.