Winter chill turns deadly as snow blankets much of Asia
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Flights were cancelled and thousands of schools forced to close as the heaviest snow in decades blanketed much of Asia on Monday. Indian officials said over 40 people had died from plummeting temperatures in the north.
AFP - Planes were grounded and thousands of schools were forced to close as the heaviest snow in over six decades blanketed Beijing and Seoul on Monday, with temperatures plummeting across much of Asia.
One person was killed and at least two others were missing in the mountains of central Japan after heavy snow.
With temperatures falling in several Asian countries, Indian officials said over 40 people had died in a cold snap that has gripped parts of the north and prompted authorities to shut thousands of schools and dole out firewood.
Parts of China experienced heavy snow flurries, with the capital Beijing recording its heaviest daily snowfall in nearly six decades on Sunday, the state Xinhua news agency reported.
The Central Meteorological Administration reported that up to 30 centimetres (12 inches) had fallen on Beijing and Tianjin over the weekend. While skies were clear in the capital Monday, more snow was expected in northeast China.
At Beijing's international airport -- where nearly 1,200 flights were cancelled or delayed on Sunday -- workers had cleared the runways and the situation was returning to normal, an airport spokesman told AFP.
More than 100 flights were nevertheless delayed and two dozen cancelled as of early Monday, the spokesman said, adding that workers needed to de-ice the snow-covered planes that were stuck at the weekend.
"I don't remember ever seeing such heavy snowfall in the city," one female Beijinger surnamed Zhou told the China Daily.
In the South Korean capital Seoul, 28 centimetres (11 inches) of snow was measured, the most precipitation the nation has seen in a day since tracking began in 1937, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.
The blanket of thick snow forced the cancellation of dozens of domestic flights and about 40 international flights were delayed, airport officials said.
Traffic was chaotic, forcing the late start of a cabinet meeting, with ministers stuck in the wintry mess.
With road traffic snarled up, Seoul's underground system laid on extra trains, but encountered problems due to technical malfunctions, the Yonhap news agency reported.
One man fell from the roof of a Seoul badminton court and died while clearing snow, one of numerous weather-related accidents, police said.
The city government said it was mobilising 3,500 civil servants and 1,200 vehicles to remove snow from all major roads and streets.
In Beijing and surrounding areas up to 30 highways were closed or only partially open, the China News Service reported. Inner-city roads remained icy and covered with snow.
More than 5,000 volunteers were deployed to keep order at crowded bus stops, Xinhua quoted Song Jianguo, head of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, as saying.
More than 3,500 schools in Beijing and Tianjin were forced to shut their doors on Monday, giving more than 2.2 million students an extra day of New Year's holiday, state media reported.
With Beijing in a deep freeze, temperatures were expected to drop to minus 16 degrees Celsius (three Fahrenheit) on Monday or Tuesday, the coldest in the capital in decades, the China Daily reported.
In northern Heilongjiang province, the mercury had already plummeted to minus 36 Celsius, the paper said.
Farther east in Japan, police said they had found the body of a climber on Mount Hodaka in central Gifu prefecture. It was not immediately clear if it was the body of one of three climbers who went missing there at the weekend.
Another party of seven were rescued safely after becoming stranded on Mount Terachi, also in Gifu prefecture, due to the heavy snow, he said.
The South Korean weather office said snow also fell in North Korea, with at least eight centimetres reported in the western port of Haeju.
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