Some highways in southern China have been completely shut down
A cold weather snap has brought ice, snow and chaos to much of eastern and southern China, paralyzing highways, cutting power and damaging crops across an area not used to sub-zero temperatures, state media reported on Friday (December 17).

Thick ice caused a ten kilometer pile-up on a major stretch of highway in south-eastern Guangdong (pron: gwang-dong) province on Thursday (December 16), forcing authorities to deploy excavators to clear the roads, China's state television CCTV reported.

CCTV has forecast that temperatures would creep back up again in some areas on Friday (December 16) but said the cold snap in subtropical Guangdong may continue until Sunday (December 19).

The cold weather, which started on December 11, has led to extreme weather warnings in 11 provinces across the south and east, CCTV said.

Snow and ice has damaged electricity supplies, cutting almost 500 lines in eastern Zhejiang (pron: jer-jeeang) province alone, CCTV said.

Farmers in Xiaoshan (pron: seeaow-shan) in Zhejiang rushed to collect crops before they were ruined by the heavy snow.

In Fujian (pron: foo-jian) province, snow weighed down and collapsed poly tunnels, crushing precious produce.

"It has crushed over 20,000 seedlings that would have been sold. Our loss is very serious, several hundred thousand yuan (tens of thousands of U.S. Dollars)," a flower farmer told reporters.

The temperature has also plummeted in northern China this week, with Inner Mongolia seeing dips as low as minus 30.

A heavy, low-lying fog blew across China's north-western port of Dalian (pron: dah-lien) on Friday (December 17), grounding over 1,000 fishing boats, CCTV reported.

State news agency Xinhua (pron: sin-hwah) reported that ice sheets have started to form off China's northern coastline as the seas begin to freeze.

The freezing cold has caused concern that China might see a repeat of extreme weather in early 2008 that brought much of the country to a standstill over the Chinese New Year period, killing 129 people and leaving millions stranded and unable to see loved ones over the holiday period, Xinhua said.