Dozens Dead in East Asia Cold

Dozens Dead in East Asia ColdDozens Dead in East Asia Cold

A cold snap sweeping across East Asia has killed at least 85 people in Taiwan and stranded close to 90,000 tourists in South Korea.

Taiwanese media reported deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease following a sudden drop in temperature over the weekend, BBC reported.

Meanwhile, heavy snow forced the closure of the airport on the Korean holiday island of Jeju, cancelling flights. The cold spell has also hit Hong Kong, southern China and Japan.

Many of those who died in Taiwan were elderly people living in northern regions such as Taipei and Taoyuan. Those areas accounted for 66 of the deaths. Another 16 were confirmed dead in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

The temperature in Taipei city fell to a 16-year low of 4C on Sunday, and many homes in Taiwan lack central heating. Many victims reportedly had heart trouble and shortness of breath.

“In our experience, it’s not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that’s too sudden for people’s circulatory systems,’’ said a city official quoted by AP.

Most excess winter deaths and illnesses are not caused by hypothermia or extremes of cold, but by heart and breathing problems. Frail elderly people are particularly at risk.

In Hong Kong, residents shivered in 3C, the lowest temperature there in nearly 60 years.

Parts of Guangzhou and Shenzhen in southern China have also seen the rare appearance of snow, while the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has seen sleet for the first time ever, report Chinese and Japanese media.

Snowstorms have hit large parts of Japan as well, with more than 600 domestic flights cancelled across the country on Sunday and Monday, NHK news reported.

At least five people have died so far and more than 100 have been injured in Japan.

Temperatures have dropped in some parts of South East Asia as well, including Vietnam and Thailand.

In Bangkok, which rarely sees temperatures below 20C, temperatures dropped to around 16C on Sunday, while Vietnam saw the coldest weather in about two decades over the weekend, with Hanoi experiencing 6C.