Fifty dead as cold snap hits East Asia

Fifty dead as cold snap hits East Asia
Media captionCamilla Schick reports on China's coldest weather in decades

A cold snap sweeping across East Asia has led to more than 50 deaths in Taiwan and stranded at least 60,000 tourists in South Korea.

Taiwanese media reported a rash of deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease following a sudden drop in temperature over the weekend.

Meanwhile heavy snow forced the closure of the airport on the Korean holiday island of Jeju, cancelling flights.

The cold spell has also hit Hong Kong, southern China and Japan.

Unusually low temperatures

Many of those who died in Taiwan were elderly people living in northern regions such as Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taoyuan. The north saw an unusually low temperature of 4C (39F) on Sunday.

Authorities have warned people, especially senior citizens, to keep warm and stay out of the cold.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption On Monday morning hundreds of passengers were stills stranded in Jeju airport
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The airport was blanketed in snow over the weekend leading to flight cancellations

In South Korea, more than 500 domestic and international flights have been cancelled in Jeju as the island, known for balmy weather and beaches, saw -6C weather. The airport is due to reopen on Monday night.

Thousands of tourists were left stranded over the weekend. Yonhap news agency reported that local officials were scrambling to find transport and accommodation.

In Hong Kong, residents shivered in 3C, the lowest temperature there in nearly 60 years.

Parts of Guangzhou and Shenzhen in southern China have also seen the rare appearance of snow, while the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has seen sleet for the first time ever, report Chinese and Japanese media.

Snow storms have hit large parts of Japan as well, with more than 600 domestic flights cancelled across the country on Sunday and Monday, reported NHK news.

At least five people have died from the snow so far and more than 100 have been injured in Japan.

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