Around China

Updated: 2014-02-16 08:35

(China Daily)

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6 killed in Lantern Festival fires

Six people were killed in fires on Friday as Chinese celebrated the traditional Lantern Festival, the Ministry of Public Security said on Saturday. A total of 2,581 fires were reported in China on the day of the festival. Police nationwide patrolled entertainment and fireworks venues and residential neighborhoods to spot fire risks, the ministry said, adding that nearly 33,500 firefighters were dispatched on Friday. Text messages and popular social media, such as the WeChat messaging app and micro blogs, were used to spread information and enhance public awareness of fire protection, according to the ministry.

Weather to disrupt return trips

Rain and snow will sweep a vast part of the country over the next two days to challenge a new period of heavy holiday traffic, the National Meteorological Center said on Saturday. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwestern China and most regions to the east of the plateau will be pelted by a new round of precipitation that was expected to begin on Feb 15 and continue today and on Feb 17, the NMC said in a statement. On Saturday, snow fell in the south of the Tibet autonomous region and the southeast of Qinghai province, with some parts receiving heavy snow or snowstorms, the center said. Rain and snow will move eastward from Sunday to Monday. The weather will likely disrupt the upcoming return-trip travel peak in China's chunyun, a travel rush period around the country's Spring Festival, which runs from Jan 16 to Feb 24 this year.

Festival fireworks aggravate smog

Heavy smog persisted in Beijing on Saturday after a final round of holiday fireworks revelry brought the air quality index to 500, reaching Level 6, or severely polluted, on Friday evening. The average Air Quality Index reading on Friday was 50 percent higher than that recorded on the Lunar New Year Eve, which often sees the fiercest firework displays of the holiday season. The highest PM2.5 reading of 900 was recorded in Tongzhou district in eastern Beijing on Friday night. Most Chinese metropolitan areas, such as Beijing, ban fireworks year-round except for the 15 days from the Lunar New Year Eve to the Lantern Festival.


New human H7N9 case reported

Health authorities in Anhui province on Saturday reported a new case of human H7N9 bird flu virus infection. The provincial health bureau announced in a notice that the patient, a teenage girl, was diagnosed in a hospital in Huaining county, Anqing city, on Friday. She is in a stable condition. Anhui, along with Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, are the worst hit regions for the deadly bird flu. There have been more than 120 human H7N9 cases reported in China so far this year and at least 32 deaths, according to the health ministry's official tally earlier.


Polar bear brothers want mates

A polar-themed park in Northeast China has issued a global "marriage-seeking" bid for two polar bears in captivity. The Harbin Polarland in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, announced the bid at a polar animal show on Valentine's Day on Friday. Due to the lack of female polar bears in China, both bears remain without mates despite their relatively advanced ages. Their keeper said polar bears reach sexual maturity at the age of 5. However, the older bear is 10 years old, and the younger one is 9, making both "elderly bachelors". The bear brothers were wild bears imported from Russia in 2006.


(China Daily 02/16/2014 page2)