The death toll in the heavy snow and sand storms that hit Mongolia last week has risen to 52, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Monday.

The storms most severely affected seven provinces in the west and center of the country. Wind speeds reached 40 meters a second in some areas.

More than 300 people and 70 vehicles were involved in the subsequent rescue operations, which are now coming to an end. The search for survivors has been hampered by poor weather conditions.

Earlier, it was reported that 42 people died.

Thousands of cattle also died in the storms. Strong winds also damaged buildings and infrastructure, causing power cuts in the worst-hit areas.