Early heavy snow storms in north-central China have killed 40 people, caused collapse of over 9,000 buildings, destroyed standing winter crop over 2,000 hectares and led to massive traffic snarls.
Twenty one people were killed mostly in house collapses caused by heaviest snowfall in a decade in Hebei and Henan provinces over the last three days.
The heavy snow storms also caused death of 29 more people in traffic-related accidents, the official news agency Xinhua reported, quoting officials of Civil Affairs Ministry saying that the unusual snowfall had disrupted flights and affected more than eight million people.
Over 160,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes or rescued from their stranded vehicles on the highways.
Xinhua said authorities had launched a massive programme to provide food, water and clothing to the snow-stricken people.
Authorities also said that standing crop worth 4.5 billion yuan (about $659 million) had been destroyed by the snow.
There has been a continuous snowfall since Monday in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Hubei and Shaanxi, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
The Chinese capital has also been experiencing heavy snowfall, but no deaths have been reported.
The Chinese state media said some of the snowfall was induced through cloud seeding, but it was not clear whether the entire snow storm enveloping the north-central areas was man-made or natural.