Seven missing people confirmed dead in blizzard-hit Xinjiang

10:04, January 24, 2010      

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The bodies of seven people, who had been missing in a blizzard in Altay, northwest China's Xinjiang, were found by rescuers Saturday.

The bodies, of six men and one woman, were discovered at 4:50 p.m. in the Xemirxek township in Altay but could not be transferred due to bad weather, officials of the Xinjiang regional emergency office told Xinhua.

The rescue team planned to move the bodies with a helicopter to the Altay city Sunday morning to confirm their identities.

The seven were part of a group of 23 illegal gold diggers who were overtaken by a snowstorm on Jan. 13, when they were trying to retreat from Halahate, a remote mountainous area in Altay Region.

Only two gold diggers managed to reach the destination of Zuhalagai, also in Altay, with serious frostbite. Fourteen others were rescued in an emergency military airlift on Thursday.

Two military helicopters with 10 rescuers were delivered Saturday morning to Xemirxek to search for the missing people.

Up to 2 meters of snow has fallen in the township, about 120 kilometers from downtown Altay, cutting ground access to the areas.

Blizzards and extreme cold since late December are seriously affecting transport in Xinjiang. The latest cold snap in northern Xinjiang pushed temperatures in some areas to nearly minus 46 degrees Celsius.

Source: Xinhua
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