Rare Cold Snap Kills Dozens in East Asia

In Hong Kong, 'frost chasers' had to be rescued
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 25, 2016 12:03 AM CST
Rare Cold Snap Kills Dozens in East Asia
Snow sits on the decorative dragons at the Pinglin temple in the high mountain area of New Taipei City, Taiwan, on Monday.   (Wally Santana)

The US East Coast wasn't the only place struggling with winter weather over the weekend: An unusually cold weather front has been blamed for killing 57 mostly elderly people in Taiwan's greater Taipei area. The cold wave abruptly pushed temperatures to a 16-year low of 39 degrees Fahrenheit in the subtropical capital where most homes lack central heating, causing heart trouble and shortness of breath for many of the victims, a city official says. "In our experience, it's not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that's too sudden for people's circulatory systems," a city spokesman says.

The cold front also left 3.5 inches of snow on Taipei's highest peak Saturday and stranded vehicles as people headed into the mountains to see the snow. The same polar front closed schools Monday in Hong Kong, where temperatures fell to 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest in nearly 60 years, the BBC reports. Over the weekend, "frost chasers" headed to the territory's highest peaks, and more than 200 of them, many suffering from hypothermia, had to be rescued by firefighters, reports the Hong Kong Free Press. (In the US, the weekend blizzard may be followed by a baby boom.)

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