Cold snap persists, causing more chaos in central, southern China   2011-01-05 17:32:13 FeedbackPrintRSS

NANNING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The cold snap that has seized several central and southern Chinese provinces since New Year's Day is likely to persist 10 more days, driving up grocery prices in some cities and cutting supplies in others.

In Ziyuan County of the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, an isolated mountain town where the freezing weather closed all four highways Sunday and Monday, vegetables, meat and eggs were still in stock Wednesday, but prices had risen 20 percent for radishes and 50 percent for chilies.

"All the groceries are trucked in from the neighboring Guilin City, now that the ice-covered highway to Guilin is open for a few hours a day," said Huang Yongyue, chief of the county committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Huang said the local government had stepped up supervision to ensure adequate supplies and stable prices at the local market.

Authorities in Guiyang, capital of the southwestern Guizhou Province, capped the price on Chinese cabbages and radishes, two most common vegetables on the Chinese dinner table, Wednesday to prevent price hikes.

More than 100 primary schools in Guiyang's Yuyan District and Kaiyang County have suspended classes over safety concerns, the provincial education department said.

"We have told schools to skip the final test and begin the winter holidays in advance if the bad weather persists," it said on its website.

Besides Guangxi and Guizhou, the freezing weather also hit the central Hunan Province, and Chongqing Municipality in the southwest, packing snow and sleet and bringing traffic to a standstill on icy expressways.

In Hunan's Xiangxi and Huaihua, nearly all coach bus services have been suspended as it is increasingly risky to drive on the icy, slippery roads. On State Highway No. 319 that zigzags through the western parts of the province, toppled vehicles and stranded passengers can be seen nearly every kilometer.

In Chongqing, the cold snap wreaked even more havoc by freezing 285 km of tap water pipeline in Youyang County Wednesday, cutting water supplies to 85,000 residents, a county government spokesman said.

A resident surnamed Wu said he had to carry water from a well 2 km from his home.

The average temperature has been below freezing in 39 villages and townships in Youyang County since Jan. 1. The bitter cold has put pressure on the local power supply network as more residents have turned on air conditioners and electric heaters for warmth. Coal and natural gas-fueled central heating is present only in northern China, as the southern provinces are traditionally believed to be much warmer than the northern region.

But Chongqing's Wulong County, another seriously battered mountain town, was covered with an average 2 cm of ice.

"It's really a bad start to the New Year," said Xu Xinquan, a farmer who grows vegetables in Yangliu village. "At least for this season, my family will loose 6,000 yuan in the field."

The National Meteorological Center said on its website Wednesday the cold snap was likely to continue for at least another week.

The regional weather bureau of Guangxi warned the bitter cold would last 10 days, with rain, sleet and snow in most parts of the region and the mercury remaining below zero.

The cold snap would also persist in Chongqing, with the temperature expected to drop Thursday and again next Monday, said Liu De, the municipal weather bureau chief.

Editor: Zhang Xiang
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