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Heavy Snow Storms Kill 32 in N China

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Early and heavy snow storms in north China have killed 32 people, destroyed nearly 300,000 hectares of winter crops, and caused nearly 7 billion yuan (about US$1 billion) of direct economic losses as of 2:00 PM Sunday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The death toll did not include those who died in snow-caused traffic accidents, the ministry said. Ten died in Hebei Province, 12 died in Henan Province, and others in provinces of Shanxi, Shandong and Shaanxi.

As of 2:00 PM Sunday, more than 9.6 million people were affectedly snow storms, and 166,000 people had been evacuated from their homes or stranded vehicles jammed on the roads.

More than 15,000 buildings collapsed, the ministry said.

Heavy snow storms began to fall on Monday in northern and central Chinese provinces, including Hebei, Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Hubei and Shaanxi, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Beijing also experienced heavy snow, but no deaths have been reported so far.

(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2009)