Tens of thousands evacuated after freezing rain pummels south China

08:27, January 05, 2011      

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More than 22,800 people have been evacuated from their homes in southwest China's Guizhou Province as of Tuesday afternoon after persistent freezing rain in the past few days damaged and even destroyed some homes, local authorities said.

More than 208 homes collapsed as roofs could not bear the weight of accumulated ice as rain froze in the sub-zero weather, said a spokesman with the provincial emergency response office. The icy rain also damaged 1,455 more roofs.

The icy weather and sleet also caused highways to become iced-over, leaving thousands stranded in their cars as almost all expressways in the province were closed, according to the Guizhou Provincial Department of Transport.

On Tuesday, traffic slowly returned to normal as all ice-covered highways reopened after being closed for over 30 hours.

On Saturday, an auxiliary police officer died while on duty in an ice-caused car accident on a highway in Guizhou, when he was assisting at the scene of another accident, also caused by the icy weather.

As of Tuesday, the lives of more than 1.8 million people in the province have been affected by the freezing weather and icy roads. Additionally, economic losses were estimated at 300 million yuan (about 45.3 million U.S. dollars), according to statistics released by the office.

Meanwhile, more than 79,100 hectares of crops were also damaged by the freezing rain.

Guizhou's provincial weather forecaster said Tuesday that cold and rainy weather would continue to haunt the province over the next five days.

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