Deep freeze causes chaos across southern provinces

By Jin Zhu (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-01-07 07:39
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Deep freeze causes chaos across southern provinces
Residents of Sanyuan village in Guizhou province's Xiuwen county push a trolley carrying water from outside the village on Thursday, after freezing weather damaged the water pipes. Wu Dongjun / for China Daily 

Beijing - Icy weather and freezing rain continue to batter five regions across South China. The wild weather has caused chaos to power facilities and expressways, and disrupted local residents' lives.

Two power plants in Southwest China's Sichuan province stopped supplying power on Wednesday due to the harsh weather. This caused the abortive transmission of 2.5 million kilowatts of electricity, China National Radio (CNR) reported on Thursday.

To support Sichuan, State Grid has allocated power from its branches in other provinces. So far, power supply for local residents' daily lives has remained normal in Sichuan, the report said.

Ice caused a 5,000-square- meter workshop in a cement plant in Chongqing municipality to collapse on Wednesday, resulting in losses of more than 1.5 million yuan ($226,339), local broadcaster CQTV reported.

Five cars were buried under the rubble, but no one was injured because the cement plant had halted production before the accident due to the constant shortage of raw materials caused by the extreme weather.

Three people died and 10 were injured in a bus crash on Thursday morning on an expressway in Southwest China's Guizhou province, local police said.

A long-distance bus from Chongqing municipality overturned near Zhazuo toll station on an expressway linking Guiyang and Zunyi at around 9 am, a spokesman with the provincial public security department said without giving details.

Police officers imposed a temporary ban on at least two lanes to remove the victims and clear the wreckage.

The spokesman said the injured had been sent to hospital and the cause of the accident was still under investigation.

A cold snap since New Year's Day has left parts of Guizhou province covered in ice. Though most expressways in the province reopened to traffic on Thursday, police warned it is still risky to drive on the icy roads as sleet continues to fall and the temperature remains below freezing point.

"Some sections on the expressway have already frozen this morning and many trucks skidded sideways or smashed against the guardrail," a local traffic policeman told CNR on Thursday.

By Thursday, 250,000 of the 7 million residents in Zunyi city, of Guizhou province, had been affected by icy weather and more than 400,000 residents were facing water shortages, the radio report said.

The deep freeze also led to a surge in vegetable prices in some southern cities. In a market in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, the price of Chinese cabbage had increased by 67 percent, local media reported.

On Wednesday, the local price bureau began to set ceiling prices for some vegetables in the city.

By 5 pm on Thursday, 3.8 million people had been affected and nearly 60,000 had to leave their damaged homes in Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces and Chongqing municipality.

Also, 142,400 hectares of crops had been affected, of which 11,800 hectares suffered total crop failure, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

China's National Meteorological Center continued its forecast for freezing rain, which quickly turns into ice on the ground, for parts of South and Southwest China over the next 10 days.

Icy rain and freezing temperatures caused chaos in 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in January 2008, resulting in traffic deadlocks and power blackouts.

However, this year's freeze is unlikely to cause that much chaos, weather experts say.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

China Daily