Bitter winter blast hits the south hard

Updated: 2013-01-18 07:59

By He Na, Hu Yongqi and Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

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Snow affects traffic

The cold weather has affected transport in many places, including Anhui province. In Huoshan county, in the west of the province, more than 1,000 buses suspended service from December due to heavy snowfalls and icy roads.

Tucked away in the Dabie Mountains, the county relies on private buses to connect towns. Wang Bin, 36, had been running his licensed bus for more than 10 years, carrying passengers from his hometown in Hujiahe township to the county seat.

"Unlike North China, the snow on top here melts faster than that beneath. Then, the water soon turns to ice and makes the road even slipperier and dangerous," Wang said.

Drivers said the chilly weather this year was much worse than that of five years ago. In January 2008, the province was hit by a snowstorm, which caused widespread traffic chaos. A new expressway was built and opened in 2010, connecting Wang's town with the provincial capital, Hefei.

Usually, Wang would use an old road to save some money, but after the snow arrived he had to take the expressway, paying about 60 yuan ($9) in toll fees for a round trip to the county seat.

The extra cost was shared by travelers. Du Zhengwen, 40, a wholesaler who frequently travels between the township and the county seat, said he would rather go on the expressway and pay more. "It's much safer to go on the expressway that is cleared every day. Otherwise, I prefer to stay at home rather than taking a risk on the icy road."

Most buses have since returned to service but carry snow chains in case of emergencies.

Rural production loss

Guangdong province has been hit by a series of cold spells since December, with the north of the province experiencing severe frost. Crops were badly damaged, with more than 20,000 hectares affected, causing direct economic losses of more than 93 million yuan.

In the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, more than 54,000 hectares of crops in 12 cities had been affected by frost up to Jan 10, including 41,000 hectares of sugar cane that is certain to see decreased yield, according to sources from the local agriculture bureau.

Farmers are racing against time to harvest sugar cane, with sugar companies working flat out to limit their losses.

Ma Shantuan, Party secretary of the agricultural technology promotion station attached to the agriculture bureau, said damage to the region's crops is slightly worse than in normal years at this time but not severe enough to greatly reduce yield. However, if more cold snaps arrive, then losses will be hard to estimate.

The tomato and eggplant harvest in the northern part of Guangxi is facing almost complete failure.

Zuo Ming, director of the bureau's sugar crops division, said, "Our bureau dispatched many teams to affected regions to direct farmers' anti-frost measures to lower losses. I have been inspecting frost-affected rural areas since December and handed in a disaster report to the bureau every day."