500,000 affected in blizzard-hit Xinjiang, 4 dead

Updated: 2010-01-13 00:11
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URUMQI: Four people died and more than 500,000 were affected by the severe winter conditions in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Avalanches killed a villager in Altay Prefecture on Thursday and two herdsmen in Yili Prefecture on Sunday. The fourth, a Kazakh villager of Toli County, Tacheng Prefecture, was found frozen to death in the gobi desert on Sunday.

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Police said Diersi Bazar Khan, 21, planned to walk back home after drinking alcohol in the county seat at about 4 pm on Saturday, but the villager died on the way.

Temperatures plummeted to minus 23 degrees Celsius at the weekend in Xinjiang, China's Central Meteorological Station (CMS) said.

More than 500,000 people in 12 cities and counties have been affected by heavy snow since January 1, which resulted in blackouts and transport disruption. Among them 278 were injured and about 8,600 were evacuated,according to the regional Department of Civil Affairs.

More than 100,000 houses were flattened or damaged and 15,200 livestock died. The direct economic loss was estimated at 200 million yuan ($29 million), the department said.

More snow was expected Wednesday and the temperature would continue to drop, said the regional meteorological station.