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Heavy snow hits southwest
By Di Fang in Beijing and £¿Wu Jiachun in Kunming (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-28 06:15

Nearly 1,000 golden monkeys recently came down from the mountains where they lived in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The protected animals did so to avoid the blizzard and the extreme coldness on the mountains in Weixi.

Their escape, which even frightened their caretakers, shows how serious the snow storm was in the northwestern part of Yunnan.

The volume of snow in the Nujiang River areas and Diqing broke the province's 100-year-old record as 262 millimetres of snow fell in the 10 days to Wednesday.

Rain followed, resulting in mudslides.

In the affected Gongshan, five were killed and more than 300 injured.

A total of 29,000 local residents felt the impact of the snow storm, with direct economic losses of 60 million yuan (US$7 million).

In another snow-affected county Weixi, three people were killed including two children. More than 2,000 residential houses collapsed.

The direct economic loss in Weixi reached more than 20 million yuan (US$2.4 million).

The mudslides seriously damaged power transmission and communication facilities.

Transportation in the county was also affected.

Local governments in snow-hit Yunnan established disaster relief groups and government officials were on duty around the clock.

Highways in the disaster-affected areas have returned to normal operations.

Power supply in the urban and parts of the rural areas has also returned to normal.

In another development, relief work was under way and 18 million yuan (US$2.2 million) was allotted to areas hit by blizzards in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Xinhua reported.

"A large number of livestock starved or froze to death because of the heavy snowfalls. This may have a great impact on local people's lives because raising livestock is their main means of livelihood," an anonymous civil affairs official was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Beginning in January, constant snowfalls have hit areas such as Ngari, Xigaze and Nagqu in Tibet, causing the death of 16,600 animals, and blocking transport routes.

Eighteen million yuan (US$2.18 million) was allocated by the regional civil affairs authorities for disaster relief.

The central government also appropriated 4 million yuan (US$480,000) to compensate herdsmen and ensure they have enough food for the remainder of the winter, according to the civil affairs officials.

(China Daily 02/28/2005 page3)

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