6 Jan 2011

Havoc in China amid cold weather

6:22 am on 6 January 2011

Torrential icy rain in south and central China has forced the emergency evacuation of about 58,000 people.

The government says snow and sleet from Sichuan province in the southwest to Jiangxi province in the southeast destroyed 1200 houses and damaged 6600 other buildings.

The Civil Affairs Ministry says only one fatality has been attributed to the cold weather, but more than 3.8 million people have been affected by sleet and ice clogging the roads over the New Year holiday.

More than 142,000 hectares of crop land was also damaged in the cold snap, the ministry said in a statement.

Prices for perishable food items have skyrocketed as supplies could not be shipped into urban areas.

The BBC reports that the freezing conditions are forecast to last until Friday.