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China, Others in Asia Raise Gasoline Prices as Crude Prices Soar

China has increased gasoline and diesel prices for the first time in more than a year, as shortages disrupt transportation in the south of the country. Gasoline prices also rose in other parts of Asia Thursday, and there seems to be no relief in sight as oil rose above $96 a barrel. VOA's Heda Bayron reports from Hong Kong.

In southern China, long lines have formed at gas stations because of gasoline and diesel shortages. Some stations have had to shut down after certain oil refiners suspended operations due to rising crude oil costs.

Drivers in the Guangdong province are complaining about gas rationing, which has disrupted transportation in the manufacturing hub.

One driver told Hong Kong Cable TV he is able to buy only 50 to 100 yuan, or up to $13 worth of gas at a time.

Shortages were also reported in other provinces. A man was reported killed in a fight at a gas station in Henan province Wednesday after he tried to jump the line.

On Thursday, China increased gasoline and diesel prices as much as 10 percent. Starting Thursday, Chinese motorists are paying 84 cents per liter of top-quality gasoline, and 71 cents per liter of diesel.

The increase was aimed at easing the losses of refiners, who have to pay high prices for crude oil on the world market, but sell their refined products at low, government-set prices.

The government says it also hopes the increase will discourage Chinese people from using too much oil. Rising numbers of vehicles and energy-hungry factories have made China one of the world's biggest consumers of oil.

Gas prices in Japan rose five cents Thursday, to $1.26 per liter.

In the Philippines, thousands of Filipinos traveling to the provinces Thursday for an annual visits to cemeteries had to pay half a peso more per liter, an increase of one percent.

Rany, a cab driver in Cebu City, says he will be making less money because of the price hikes. He says he earns roughly $11 a day. He says to make matters worse, the price of cooking gas has also increased.

In Asia trading Thursday, oil surged to $96 per barrel. Analysts say this will increase pressure on other oil companies in Asia to raise their prices, which could in turn lead to more expensive basic commodities.