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38 dead in China snow storms

BEIJING Nov 13- At least 38 people have died in some of the worst snows to hit northern China in decades, state media reported on Friday, but storms were tapering off, easing travel woes at airports and rail stations.

The most fatalities occurred in Shanxi province where nearly 500 traffic accidents left 24 people dead and 70 injured when heavy snowfall pummelled the region this week, the China News Service said.

In some places this week’s snowstorms were the biggest in up to 60 years, leaving up to one million people in need of some form of disaster assistance, the report said.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited Hebei province and ordered stepped up efforts after six people in the province were killed due to the snow, including three children crushed when a school roof collapsed, it said.

Five others were reported dead in building cave-ins in Shaanxi province, while the other known fatalities occurred in Shandong province and the Ningxia region, it said.

The unusual amount of snow led to partial and full closures at airports in Beijing, Taiyuan, Xian, Shijiazhuang and other smaller cities, resulting in the cancellation or delay of hundreds of flights during the week, reports said.

Major highways in north China have been shut down, leaving at least 10,000 vehicles and up to 30,000 people stranded on roads in Shanxi alone, they said.

The snows have also snarled train traffic, with delays leaving at least 20,000 people sleeping in Beijing’s West Station overnight Thursday, the Beijing News said.

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State television said the storms had tapered off Friday, with road, rail and air traffic mostly returning to normal.

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