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Freezing temperatures have forced the evacuation of more than 20,000 people from their homes in southern China, as the region braces for more temperature drops in the coming days.

Ice and sleet have collapsed the roofs of more than 200 homes and forced the evacuation of 22,800 people across the southern province of Guizhou, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Tuesday. Thousands of cars were stranded and some ice-covered roads were closed, the report said.

"People, especially those living in the mountains and the elderly, are being evacuated from their homes," a Guizhou Meteorological Bureau official, surnamed Zhao, said Wednesday. "Roads and homes with poor infrastructure are being impacted by the icy conditions."

Zhao declined to give his full name, as is common with Chinese officials.

Freezing weather has also damaged more than 160,000 acres of crops such as cabbage, and caused about $45 million in economic losses in Guizhou, according to Xinhua.

In the neighbouring regions of Guangxi and Hunan, ice-covered highways have stranded thousands of travellers this week, Xinhua reported.

Zhao said the northern and central regions of Guizhou will see subfreezing temperatures through Friday.

Source: The Canadian Press