Death toll rises to 20 in NW China blizzard

21:28, January 27, 2010      

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The death toll from the continuing freezing temperatures and record snowfalls in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region rose to 20 Wednesday, local authorities said.

Nine people in Altay Prefecture and 11 people in Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture had died in the worst snow in six decades, said officials with the regional department of civil affairs.

The blizzard and avalanche hit the northern part of Xinjiang, particularly Altay, Ili and Tacheng, this week. More than 1.5 million people were affected, of whom more than 160,000 have been evacuated, according to the department.

The harsh weather have injured 1,304 people, compared with 1,168 on Monday. The number of damaged houses has risen to 31,000 from 21,000. The direct economic loss was estimated at 640 million yuan (94 million U.S. dollars), it said.

Premier Wen Jiabao, during his inspection tour to Altay and Tacheng at the weekend, promised to take effective measures to help people through the severe weather. He said the government would offer subsidies and provide discount loans for shepherds.

Source: Xinhua
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