Sat, January 23, 2010
China > Mainland

Cold snap aggravates China's worst ice threat

2010-01-23 13:03:24 GMT2010-01-23 21:03:24 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2010 shows the sea ice on the seashore in Xingcheng, northeast China's Liaoning Province. As cold fronts pushed temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius, the acreage of sea ice in Bohai Sea and Huanghai Sea increased to 41312 square meters on Friday, 6612 square meters larger than one day before. This is the worst sea ice ever in the past 40 years and it's set to worsen until this Febrary, according to National Marine Environmental Forcasting Center. (Xinhua/Ren Yong)

Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2010 shows the sea ice on the seashore in Xingcheng, northeast China's Liaoning Province. (Xinhua/Ren Yong)

Sea ice off China's east coast, the worst in 40 years, would continue to expand in the next few days, as another cold snap was expected to hit the Bohai Sea.

The worsening ice threat has affected tens of thousands of people and caused huge economic losses in the provinces along China's east coast.

The Shandong Provincial Marine and Fishing Bureau said Friday that direct economic losses in the province might had reached 2.2 billion yuan (322 million U.S. dollars).

The sea ice have affected more than 95,000 people in Shandong. More than 140,000 hectares of offshore aquatic farms and 500 docked fishing boats have been damaged by Thursday, according to the bureau.

In neighboring Liaoning Province, residents on Juhua island were struggling with water shortage as the sea ice layer measured 15 cm to 20 cm continued to expand around the island.

The island of 13.5 square km, with a population of 3,200 people, is the largest in Liaodong Bay. It is separated by a 7.5-km gulf from Xingcheng City, Liaoning.

Ferry traffic to and from the island was suspended on Dec.31, 2009, because of the ice.

Authorities said they were preparing to break the ice and send living necessities to islanders around the Spring Festival on Feb. 14.

Ye Qinghua, head of the police station on the Juhua Island, told Xinhua over phone that people on the island had stored food and living necessities, but they were short of drinking water.

"There are not enough fuel stocks for heating, and some sections of the water pipeline are frozen, cutting water supply to some residents here," said Ye.

The North China Sea Branch of the State Oceanic Administration said it had been closely monitoring the sea ice around 252 populated islands in the Bohai Sea.

Wang Weiyang, an official with the agency said China lacked ice breakers. The country's only professional ice breaking vessel, the Snow Dragon, is used for China's Antarctica exploration.

The sea ice appeared early January along the coasts of the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea as cold fronts pushed temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius, according to the National Marine Forecasting Station.

The ice has frozen all six major ports in the sea area, hindering fuel transport, especially the transport of coal produced from north China to southern provinces.

"The port was frozen on and off over the past three days. So far more than 30 freighters still could not touch at the port," said Liu Yanheng, vice general manager of Weifang Sime Darby Prot Co., Ltd, Shandong Province.

China's leading oil producer Sinopec said the company has closed six of its eight drilling rigs in Shengli Offshore Oil Field in the sea area because of the ice.

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said Friday the sea ice in the Bohai Sea has covered 45 percent of the waters, compared with the 40 percent monitored 10 days ago.

The the State Oceanic Administration has made an emergency plan by setting up a monitoring network, consisting of two airplanes, eight satellites, two radars and 20 monitoring stations to report the sea ice.

The administration has also sent two work groups to Shandong, Liaoning, Hebei provinces and Tianjin Municipality to help cope with the disaster.

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