A record chill across China has delayed flights, trapped ships in ice and left China's Inner Mongolia region dependent on aid. Meteorologists blamed cold fronts caused, they say, by melting polar ice from global warming.
China's meteorological office had calculated average temperatures at their lowest in 28 years, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
Thermometers nationwide have averaged minus 3.8 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) but averages in China's three northeastern provinces bordering Siberia lay around minus 15 degrees. In Inner Mongolia spot temperatures had fallen to minus 40 degrees.
Xinhua said 260,000 people in Inner Mongolia were in need of emergency aid. The severe chill had killed at least two people and about 180,000 head of livestock.
More than 3,700 people had been evacuated, said Xinhua quoting local officials in Inner Mongolia.
The China Daily newspaper said Laizhou Bay off the eastern province of Shandong had frozen over, stranding nearly 1,000 ships in ice.
Cold stalls southern airport
On Saturday, Xinhua said 280 flights had been grounded at Changshui International Airport in the southern Chinese city of Kunming until thick fog lifted.
Frustrated passengers confronted airline staff, complaining about a lack of information, according to the news agency AFP.
Meanwhile, truck drivers in southeastern Jiangxi province were caught out by extreme snowfalls which caused vehicle tailbacks.
"I didn't expect such a situation, so I've brought no warm coats or food," stranded trucker Yao Xuefeng told the China Daily. "All I can do now is wait."
Heavy snow also forced partial closures of the Beijing-Hong Kong highway.
ipj/sej (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)
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