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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 04:57 GMT
Severe snow hits central China
Snow covers the city wall in Xian, China
It has been snowing in central China for several days
Unusually heavy snow has left at least 16 people dead and brought transport chaos to large areas of central and eastern China, state media said.

Worst hit is Hubei province, where crops have been destroyed and roads blocked by the heaviest snow seen in the area for 16 years.

More than 7.8 million people there have been affected by the weather, a local official told Xinhua news agency.

The snow is delaying people returning home for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Half of all roads in Hubei province were closed because of the snow, Xinhua said, as well as large areas of northern Anhui province.

Expressways in Shanxi and Henan provinces were also closed.

Map of China

The snow had also cut a transmission line carrying electricity from the massive Three Gorges Dam to the city of Shanghai.

Flights in the region had been delayed and long-distance coaches cancelled, leading to large crowds at railway stations.

A student died at a station in Anhui province when he was pushed from an overcrowded platform onto the tracks below, Xinhua said.

Six people died when buildings collapsed in Hubei and Anhui provinces, while nine more were killed in weather-related traffic accidents.

More snow is forecast for central China over the next two days, meteorologists said.

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