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    Jan 25, 2016

    East Asia hit by coldest weather in decades


    TEMPERATURES plunged to the lowest point in nearly 60 years in Hong Kong yesterday while many southern parts of China, South Korea and Japan experienced heavy snowfalls, in some cases the frostiest winter in decades.

    "The daily minimum temperature dropped to 3.3 deg C; the previous record was 2.4 deg C in February of 1957," Wong Wai Kin, a senior scientific officer in Hong Kong, told Agence France-Presse.

    "It is very cold and windy over Hong Kong. People are advised to put on warm clothes and to avoid prolonged exposure to wintry winds," advised a government website.

    As the mercury dropped, curious residents flocked to higher ground in search of frost, reported broadcaster Cable TV.

    Screenshots of flakes also swamped social media but weather forecasters said the precipitation was "rain with small ice pellets" rather than snow. Conditions are not expected to warm up until the middle of the week, said weather forecasters.

    Meanwhile, the state-run People's Daily in China said the southern city of Guangzhou recorded its first snowfall since 1929.

    In the South Korean holiday island of Jeju yesterday, flights at the airport were cancelled for a second day due to the biggest snowfall in 32 years and high winds.

    Many flights were either cancelled or delayed before Jeju airport was shut at 5.45pm on Saturday, when all flights were halted until 9am tomorrow, Reuters quoted the transportation ministry as saying.

    According to local media reports, snow fell in south-west Japan such as Nagasaki and Kagoshima prefectures yesterday.

    The temperature in Okinawa island's capital of Naha plunged below 9 deg C, seven degrees lower than its average for January.

    The snow in south-west Hiroshima was the heaviest in years, with one town in the area blanketed in 74cm of snow in just 24 hours through yesterday morning.

    The Japan Meteorological Agency said the cold snap was likely to continue in western and central areas through today, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.