Freezing weather affects 420,000 SW Chinese

GUIYANG, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- About 420,000 people are in a state of disaster in southwest China's Guizhou Province, as the freezing weather has been worsened by a new round of cold air, said local authorities on Thursday.

The local meteorological department of the province said that, from Wednesday to Thursday, the temperature in 59 counties has dropped below zero degrees Celsius and 37 counties have seen snowfall.

Lingering cold along with freezing rain and snowfall have affected 425,300 people in 17 counties and forced local governments to relocate 5,044 people, according to the provincial civil affairs authorities.

The province's direct economic losses to the cold are estimated to be over 73.6 million yuan (about 11.8 million U.S. dollars), mostly coming in agricultural fields.

Local governments have set up dozens of rescue stations to offer relief goods including food and clothes to people in need.

The National Meteorological Center said on Thursday that snow, rain and freezing temperatures will continue to hit southern China over the next few days.

From Thursday to Saturday, light to moderate snow or sleet will affect the provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan and Yunnan, as well as parts of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and northeast China, the center said.