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Freezing temperatures in northern China trigger alert

BEIJING – China on Dec 16 issued a low temperature alert, warning the mercury could drop to historic lows in some areas of the country, one day after President Xi Jinping urged “all-out efforts” to ensure safety.

The freezing weather comes on the heels of this winter’s first snowfall in Beijing, where the public transport system faced delays, flights were cancelled, and slippery tracks caused a metro collision on the evening of Dec 14 that injured more than a hundred people.

The country’s meteorological authorities on the morning of Dec 16 issued a low-temperature warning that forecast a cold wave across “the greater part” of China that will last until Dec 19.

State news agency Xinhua, meanwhile, cited the authorities as saying “some areas in northern China and regions along the Yellow River and Huaihe River might see their temperatures near or break record lows for the same period of the year”.

Defying the already frosty weather, tourists in Beijing braved biting winds on Dec 15 at the portion of the Great Wall located in the mountains surrounding the city, where the iconic monument sat covered in a thin layer of snow.

Unusually cold weather is also expected to extend into other parts of China, with Dec 16’s official warning adding that temperatures of 0 deg C or lower in coming days were expected in the southern part of Guizhou province – about 300km from the border with Vietnam.

As the country braced itself for the mercury dip, President Xi Jinping called for “all-out efforts in emergency response”, state media reported on the evening of Dec 15.

Facing “high disaster risks” posed by the impending cold spell, “Xi said close attention must be paid to the disaster prevention and relief work”, Xinhua reported.

“Coal, power, oil and gas supply capacities need to be strengthened, and work needs to be done to secure energy supply and ensure the people stay warm,” said Mr Xi, according to Xinhua.

The freezing temperatures follow a summer of record heat and devastating flooding in northern China, as climate experts warn of an increased risk of extreme weather caused by global warming. AFP

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