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863 Herders Stranded in Snow in Qinghai

Fears are mounting for the safety of 863 herders and their families stranded in the mountainous areas of Qinghai Province.

They have been cut off for a week following heavy snowstorms, local officials said on Tuesday.

Pema Gya, deputy government chief of Madoi County, an area hit hard by the snowstorms, said the herders might be running low on supplies, and 32 tons of fodder for their cattle could not be sent because of blocked roads.

It has snowed continuously from October 27 to November 5 in Yushu and Golog, two Tibetan-inhabited areas.

Adewon, a worker with the civil affairs bureau of Golog, said the worst hit were Madoi, Gade, and Darlag counties. Snow in some parts was as deep as 18cm.

"Traffic has been cut off to the townships of Huashixia, Machali, Huanghe and Zhalinghu," Pema said.

He said snow-moving equipment had been hired, and clearance work would start as soon as they could get enough workers.

Meanwhile, Qinghai Province, which was also hit by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on Monday, is working all-out to provide assistance to those affected.

The quake, which rocked the Mongolian-Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Haixi at 9:22 AM, damaged about 500 houses. Three people were injured.

Direct economic loss has been put at 6 million yuan (US$857,000), an official with the administrative committee of the Da Qaidam District, said.

Power and water supplies were disrupted for a few hours but were restored by Monday night, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2008)

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