URUMQI - Sandstorm, snow and freezing weather have hit northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region since Thursday, affecting five million people and causing an estimated loss of five billion yuan (US$ 714 million), local authorities said on Monday.
As the Siberian cold front moved southward, the extreme weather, including strong winds, sandstorms, snow and low temperature, wreaked havoc in most part of Xinjiang from April 17 to 20, said Qian Zhi, the regional vice chairman.
The disaster affected 473,733 hectares of crops, or 69 percent of the total in the region, and 411,466 hectares of fruit trees. About 103,500 livestock were killed while another 3.25 million were injured or lost, he said.
The temperature in Urumqi, the region capital, dropped from 22 to minus four degrees Celsius in three days, but it is expected to start rising from Monday.
The regional government has ordered agriculture, forestry and water resources bureaus to step up relief and restoration efforts, Qian said.