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Sunday, 30 April, 2000, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Mongolian freeze crisis deepens
More than one million head of livestock have died
Three-quarters of all livestock have died in worst hit areas
Aid experts are warning of widespread hunger in Mongolia after the coldest winter in 30 years has left more than two million cattle and horses dead.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says the number of dead animals could rise to five million by June, and that a quarter of the country's 2.7 million people face uncertainty over food supplies.

The worst of the weather has now passed but herders have been forced to eat into their summer supplies of dried meat.

Red Cross staff who visited one badly affected area were told that these supplies had already been used up.

Carcasses litter the steppe
Carcasses litter the steppe
Rural Mongolians depend on their herds for food and wool, and sell or barter the animals for goods. In the worst-hit areas, the government says more than three-quarters of animals have died.

The Red Cross has already begun distributing emergency supplies, and hopes to to have delivered food and boots to 35,000 people by the end of May.

It is appealing for further donations to fund its efforts in the vast Central Asian country, roughly half the size of India.

Disease risk

Mongolia's troubles began last summer with drought and a rodent infestation that reduced ground fodder for animals.

Snow covered what little grass there was
Snow covered what little grass there was
The worst snowstorms for 30 years then covered over what little the herds had for forage.

Animal carcasses now litter the bleak Mongolian steppe.

Mongolian government agencies have begun programmes to remove the carcasses and inform people how to prevent outbreaks of disease the Red Cross said.

Other government initiatives will try to kill rodents and provide animals to families which have lost all their herds.

A BBC correspondent who visited the country earlier this year said herdsmen were continually moving camp in search of fodder.

One herder said it was the first time in his life that he had been left without a horse.

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29 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mongolia faces calamity
13 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mongolian herdsmen face starvation
16 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Harsh winter hits Mongolian livestock
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