January 21, 2011 / 2:37 PM / 10 years ago

Heavy snow in Southwest China forces 79,000 to evacuate homes

A policeman walks in front of Shanghai's financial district at the Bund promenade as snow falls in downtown Shanghai January 20, 2011. REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Heavy snow and rain in southwest China have forced over 79,000 people to evacuate their homes as traffic, power and communication lines remain disrupted, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, heavy snow and icy rain caused houses to collapse and forced 6,200 people out of their homes, local authorities said on Friday. In the neighbouring province of Hunan, a blizzard that started early this week has forced 73,000 to evacuate their houses, the Hunan provincial government said at a press conference on Friday.

In major city Chongqing, nearly 360,000 people are facing water shortages after cold weather damaged hundreds of kilometres of water pipes.

Icy rains have hit 87 counties, cities and districts in China causing direct economic losses of over 3.9 billion yuan, Xinhua reported.

On Thursday, close to 100 international and domestic flights to and from China’s most populous city Shanghai were delayed due to heavy snow.

Officials have warned rain, snow and ice could disrupt travel plans for millions who aim to get on the road during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Daniel Magnowski

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