Snow, sleet wreak havoc in southern China

Frigid weather in south and central China has forced the emergency evacuation of about 58,000 people and caused 1.35 billion yuan (204 million dollars) in economic losses, the government said Wednesday.

Snow and sleet that pelted a broad swathe of the country from Sichuan province in the southwest to Jiangxi province in the southeast also destroyed 1,200 homes and damaged 6,600 buildings, the Civil Affairs Ministry said.

Only one fatality has been attributed to the cold weather, but more than 3.8 million people were affected by the sleet and ice that clogged roads in the area over the New Year holiday, the ministry said in a statement.

More than 142,000 hectares (350,000 acres) of crop land was also damaged in the cold snap, it added.

Earlier media reports said tens of thousands of people were stranded on roads in the region over the New Year holiday, while prices for perishable food items skyrocketed as supplies could not been shipped into urban areas.