Asian cold snap kills over 80; Taiwan worst affected

More than 1,000 flights from South Korean resort city of Jeju cancelled.

The breakout of an unusual cold snap across East Asia has brought snow, sleet and chill winds, causing deaths in Taiwan and Japan and throwing cities in China, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong into disarray.

The worst hit was Taiwan where more than 80 people died. Most of the deaths happened in the Taiwanese capital Taipei, where temperatures plunged to a 16-year low of 4° Celsius.

Elderly people were mostly the victims as homes lacked central heating in a city that rarely sees temperatures dropping below 16 degree Celsius in a regular January.

The victims experienced hypothermia from rapidly plummeting temperatures, the Taoyuan City Fire Department said.

A 3.5 inch snow dump accumulated on two of the city's tallest peaks.

In Japan, heavy snowfall left five people dead in the western and central parts of the country. More than 100 people were injured and more than 160 flights were cancelled.

China's subtropical southern city of Guangzhou witnessed snowfall, which was a first in 60 years, the provincial meteorological station said.

The agency said as many as 24 weather stations recorded all-time low temperatures. China's cold snap coincided with the onset of the 40-day travel season marking the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 8.

In northern parts of China mercury dropped to minus 41 degrees Celsius, CCTV said.

In Hong Kong, temperatures fell to 60-year lows and the city's tallest peak, Tai Mo Shan, gathered snow at its top, attracting revellers.

Chaos in Jeju

South Korean resort city of Jeju witnessed the severest cold snap in 30 years. About a 100,000 people were stranded in the island as more than 1,000 flights were cancelled.

In Seoul, mercury plunged to minus 18° Celsius, which was the lowest since 2001.

In Bangkok, where temperatures hardly drop below 20-25°C, a cold wave was experienced with mercury falling below 16°C.

In South Asia, northern parts of India experienced unusual chill, with the temperature dropping below 5 degrees in capital New Delhi.