Mongolia snow storm kills 11, more missing

ULAN BATOR, April 11 (Reuters) –
Mongolia’s worst snow storm this winter has killed 11 people and rescue
workers are battling severe conditions to search for nine others still
missing, civil defence officials said on Wednesday.

The storm, which started last Thursday,
brought winds of up to 144 kph (90 mph) and about one metre (3.3 feet)
of snow, blocking roads and cutting communications across huge areas of
the land-locked nation of desert and steppe.

”We have very little hope left of finding
those nine still missing alive,” senior civil defence official Ikhbayar
told Reuters.

”We continue the rescue operations but
we fear they are dead.”

Deep snow was hampering rescue efforts,
with search groups travelling on horseback over mountain passes in many
areas.

Worst hit was western Uvs province, where
five herders and a motorcyclist had frozen to death and two people were
missing, feared dead, officials said.

Large numbers of livestock had also died
in the storm, they said.

Mongolia has so far lost about two million
livestock this year in its second consecutive winter disaster, which followed
two severe summer droughts. Last winter, 3.5 million animals starved and
froze to death.

In January this year, 12 people died
in winter storms.

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