DUSHANBE, March 19, Asia-Plus – Tajikistan''s coldest winter in 25 years has cost the Central Asian state''s economy $850 million in losses, the chairman of the governmental commission on emergency situations said on Tuesday.

The situation is gradually improving with assistance arriving from neighboring states to the disaster hit country, including $1-million worth of aid from Russia. Restrictions on energy supplies have also been partially lifted.

Khaibullo Latipov told a news conference that the total amount of losses, including lost profits, is more than the country''s annual $585-million budget revenues.

He announced that the Tajik government planned to set up a special commission to investigate the reasons why the country was unable to cope with the severe weather, which has seen the Central Asian state hit by heavy snowfall and temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit).

Despite the optimism about warm temperatures, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) is warning that a thaw is likely to cause further disaster, predominantly floods, avalanches and landslides.

The country''s health ministry said the public health risk in the country was worsening, as water supplies and sewage systems had been significantly damaged over the winter.