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Winter storms wreaks havoc in central China

Updated: Feb 1,2015 9:19 AM     Xinhua

WUHAN — Days of blizzards and icy rain have disrupted traffic, collapsed houses and decimated crops in central Chinese provinces, local authorities said.

Hubei province on Jan 31 reported direct economic losses of 160 million yuan ($25.6 million) after 188 houses collapsed and 28,000 hectares of crops were affected by the snowstorm that started on Jan 27.

The snow has affected 336,000 people, 495 of whom had to be relocated, according to the Department of Civil Affairs of Hubei province.

Snows and rains also continued to pelt Hunan province, which neighbors Hubei, blocking several highways and cutting vegetable supplies in cities.

Guizhou province in southwest China also issued warning of ice-coated road as a result of freezing rain. Its traffic and police authorities have initiated emergency responses to ensure traffic flows on highways.

Central and southern parts of China often see snow and freezing rain in January, creating complications for the annual Spring Festival travel rush, when China’s road and railway systems struggle to cater to hundreds of millions of passengers heading home for family get-togethers.

The rush period this year will begin on Feb 4 and last until March 16. The Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, falls this year on Feb 19.