East Asia cold snap 'kills 85 in Taiwan'
A cold snap sweeping across East Asia has killed at least 85 people in Taiwan and stranded 60,000 tourists in South Korea.
Taiwanese media reported deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease following a sudden drop in temperature over the weekend. Meanwhile heavy snow forced the closure of the airport on the Korean holiday island of Jeju, cancelling flights. The cold spell has also hit Hong Kong, southern China and Japan.
Many of those who died in Taiwan were elderly people living in northern regions such as Taipei and Taoyuan. Those areas accounted for 66 of the deaths. Another 16 were confirmed dead in the southern city of Kaohsiung.
The temperature in Taipei city fell to a 44-year low of 4C (39F) on Sunday, and many homes in Taiwan lack central heating. Many victims reportedly had heart trouble and shortness of breath.
"In our experience, it's not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that's too sudden for people's circulatory systems,'' said a city official quoted by AP news agency.
In South Korea, more than 500 domestic and international flights have been cancelled in Jeju as the island, known for balmy weather and beaches, saw -6C weather. The airport was due to reopen last night.
Thousands of tourists were left stranded over the weekend. Yonhap news agency reported that local officials were scrambling to find transport and accommodation.