January 25, 2016 5:55 am
Updated: January 25, 2016 8:37 am

East Asia cold snap blamed for more than 60 deaths

WATCH ABOVE: First snow fall in southern China in 7 decades

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TAIPEI, Taiwan – Unusually cold weather in eastern Asia has been blamed for more than 60 deaths, disrupting transportation and bringing the first snow to a subtropical city in southern China in almost 50 years. Here is a look at the worst weather to hit the region in years:

TAIWAN

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

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Most homes in subtropical Taiwan lack central heating, and the cold caused heart trouble and shortness of breath 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.

The cold snap was blamed in the deaths of 40 people in the capital, Taipei, while the neighbouring New Taipei City attributed an additional 17 deaths to the cold weather. Strokes and hypothermia were among the causes of death in New Taipei City, officials said.

The cold front also left 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) of snow on Taipei’s highest peak Saturday and stranded vehicles as people headed into the mountains to see the snow.

JAPAN

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

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.

An 88-year-old woman in western Japan’s Tottori prefecture died after a landslide hit her house before dawn on Monday, Kyodo and other media reported.

The heavy snow stranding motorists, delayed bullet train service and caused flight cancellations to and from the region.

MAINLAND CHINA

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 city’s meteorological service said.

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

The cold spell coincided with the beginning of the 40-day travel rush for Chinese New Year, which is on Feb. 8 this year, disrupting cars, flights and trains. More than 11,000 passengers were stranded at Kunming airport in southern Yunnan province.

Temperatures fell 8 to 16 degrees Celsius from Thursday to Sunday in parts of north China, and temperatures in central and eastern China were 6 to 8 degrees lower than the average historical level, according to Xinhua.

The National Meteorological Bureau forecast that temperatures in southern China would drop another 3-8 degrees Celsius on Monday.

Watt reported from Beijing. AP writer Ken Moritsugu contributed from Tokyo.

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