Cold snap hits east Asia, blamed for more than 65 deaths

Heavy snow in western and central Japan left five people dead over the weekend and possibly a sixth day on Monday.

Cold snap hits east Asia, blamed for more than 65 deaths

Taipei: Unusually cold weather in eastern Asia has been blamed for more than 65 deaths, disrupted transportation and brought the first snow to a subtropical city in southern China in almost 50 years.

Temperatures in Taiwan's capital of Taipei plunged to a 16-year low of 4 degrees Celsius (39 Fahrenheit), killing 57 mostly elderly people.

Most homes in subtropical Taiwan lack central heating, and the cold caused heart trouble and breathing problems for many of the victims, a city official said. Normally, temperatures in Taipei hover around 16 degrees C (60 degrees F) in January, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.

Heavy snow in western and central Japan left five people dead over the weekend and possibly a sixth today.

Kyodo News service said the victims included a woman who fell from a roof while removing snow, a man in a weather-related traffic accident, another man found under a snowplow and a couple that fell into an irrigation channel, apparently while removing snow.

Most parts of mainland China experienced their coldest weather in decades over the weekend. The southern city of Guangzhou, which has a humid subtropical climate, saw snow for the first time since 1967 on Sunday.

The cold led to at least four deaths — strawberry farmers who died of carbon monoxide poisoning when they turned up the heat in a greenhouse, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Temperatures in the capital, Seoul, fell to minus 18 degrees Celsius on Sunday, the lowest since 2001. On Saturday, Jeju Island received 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) of snow, the heaviest since 1984, and its airport was closed from Saturday until today.

The shutdown stranded about 86,000 people, mostly tourists, on the island and forced the cancellations of about 1,100 flights, according to Transport Ministry and airport officials.

 

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