The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Jan. 13 urged agricultural authorities in localities to promptly take drastic measures to protect livestock from prolonged icy weather, which has severely affected the northern region for weeks.

The region should brace itself for another bitter cold front which is moving towards Vietnam from China and likely to hit the north on the night of Jan. 14, the Central Hydro-meteorological Forecast Centre warned.

The cold spell is forecast to last for seven days with temperatures dropping to 9 degrees Celsius.

The three-week cold snap has killed nearly 4,500 buffaloes and cows, according to the ministry's Livestock Breeding Department. Son La is the worst hit province with more than 1,300 dead animals, Cao Bang 1,120, Lao Cai 600, Lang Son 300 and Bac Kan 400.
The department instructed local authorities in the affected region to tell farmers to consolidate their breeding facilities, store feed and keep animals warm.

The department asked farmers to stop livestock grazing when the temperature dropped below 12 degrees Celsius and move them to a warmer place if necessary.

It has sent task forces to show local farmers how to prevent livestock from freezing to death.

Meanwhile, health experts have warned people of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from coal braziers.

The warning was made after two people died in a boat-fire on Jan. 11. The boat had been carrying flammable material and the pair had been trying to keep warm using a coal brazier when the fire broke out. The accident occurred on the Hong (Red) River in Hanoi.

The lowest temperature on Jan. 12 dropped to -3.6 degrees Celsius at the peak of Mau Son Mountain in Lang Son Province, following ice and thick fog.

Tens of thousands of students in the region were absent from schools due to the icy weather, and kindergartens and primary schools in the region have been temporarily closed since earlier this week.

Director of Yen Bai provincial Department of Education and Training Tran Xuan Hung said students would study at the weekends after the weather improved to ensure they didn't miss any of the curriculum./.