BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Icy weather and sleet have disrupted the lives of more than 3.83 million people in five provincial areas in southern China since Saturday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Wednesday.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the freezing weather had left one person dead and forced the evacuation of about 58,000 residents in Jiangxi, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou, a ministry statement posted online said.
More than 1,200 houses have collapsed and another 6,600 houses have been damaged.
The sleet and freezing weather has damaged about 142,400 hectares of crops.
Economic losses are estimated at 1.35 billion yuan (about 204 million U.S. dollars).
The ministry has ordered local civil affairs offices to take measures to minimize losses.
Relief efforts should prioritize people stranded on icy highways and railways, the statement said.
Relief workers should deliver supplies including food, water, blankets, clothes and quilts to the disaster-affected people as soon as possible, to "ensure no one suffers from cold or hunger," the statement said.
The ministry has prepared 30,000 quilts and 30,000 cotton-padded coats for the evacuated residents in Hunan Province and 50,000 quilts and 50,000 cotton-padded coats for those in Guizhou Province.
The National Meteorological Center said Wednesday the freezing weather is likely to continue for at least another week.