February 7, 2008 12:24:41 am
At least 260 people have died across South Asia in the current cold wave. Bangladesh, with 134 deaths, is the worst affected. The northern Dinajpur and Rangpur regions, close to the Himalayan foothills, are facing the coldest winter in recent years. In Nepal, the toll is nearly 50, with the temperatures well below the normal mid-20s for this time of the year. Parts of Pakistan, where at least 16 people have died, have recorded their lowest temperatures in more than 70 years. Temperatures have fallen as low as minus 14 degrees in northern areas. In India, the toll has crossed 60.
Millions of Chinese began the New Year on Wednesday without power after more than a week of fierce winter weather, making it China’s coldest winter in 100 years. Scores have died in snow-related accidents in the run-up to the Lunar New Year break, one of the greatest annual migrations of humanity. Whole cities have had their power and water cut off for more than a week. However, tens of thousands of stranded passengers had finally found trains, buses and planes to get home for family reunions. Rising prices of coal, vegetables, pork, rice and other staples have added to the holiday misery.
Tornadoes ripped through America’s midsection on Tuesday, at the end of the Super Tuesday primaries for the US presidential elections which gripped the nation. At least 26 people were killed, with the tornadoes ripping the roof off a shopping mall and blowing apart warehouses as they tore across four states. As the extent of the damage became clear, candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee paused in their victory speeches to remember the victims. Northeast of Nashville, Tennessee, a spectacular fire erupted at a natural gas pumping station that may have been damaged by the storms.
The tornadoes follow a month after fierce snowstorms swept through the US, leaving more than nine dead, cutting off power supplies and causing hundreds of road accidents. Flights had to be cancelled across a wide area, and tens of thousands of people were left without electricity. In Texas, a blizzard caused 50 vehicles to plough into one another on one stretch of motorway.
Europe lived through a bitterly cold winter in December, with snow leaving thousands stranded at airports, on mountain roads and in remote villages. Authorities in northeastern Bulgaria declared a state of emergency. The Mont-Blanc tunnel linking France and Italy had to be closed to trucks because sharp temperature differences between the two sides threatened to disrupt the tunnel’s ventilation.
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