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China Working Hard to Restore Electricity to Storm-Hit Areas

One hundred thirty thousand workers are spread out across China, struggling to restore electric power to regions hard-hit by snow and ice storms. One of the most seriously affected cities in the country has been without electricity for nearly two weeks. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching, Chinese leaders are working around the clock to restore power to as many counties as possible.

One urgent example is the central city of Chenzhou, in Hunan province, an urban transit hub that has been in darkness for 12 days. Hunan lies in the center of a
large region of China that, since mid-January, has been pummeled by unusual blizzards and ice storms.

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing Tuesday, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission's Gu Junyuan said there was light in Chenzhou last night - although only briefly.

He said problems still remain with Chenzhou's power generating facilities, and that the power supply was suspended after only about three hours.

He said Chenzhou continues to be a focus of emergency attention and that workers are optimistic they can fully restore power to the city soon.

Gu added that Chinese authorities hope to restore electricity to as many of the 39 counties that remain without power as possible - especially before the Chinese
Lunar New Year, which begins Thursday.

Time is running out, he says, and the government faces a difficult task. The government-run Xinhua news agency reports that 11 power workers have died during efforts to restore power, but gave no details.

Traffic snarls continue to ease as highways are cleared of ice and train service is restored. The improved transportation is allowing tens of millions of migrant workers to complete holiday journeys home. For many of them, this is the only chance they will have all year to see their families.

Official estimates put losses to agriculture and the rest of the economy at $7.5 billion.