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Storms cause 27 deaths, heavy economic losses in central, east

STORMS sweeping five provinces in central and east China killed 27 people and damaged more than 341,000 hectares of crops, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday.

As of 5 pm yesterday, parts of Henan, Anhui, Shanxi, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces had been hit by gales, hail and heavy rain.

The homes of about 4.44 million people were destroyed or damaged during the storm, with Henan and Anhui worst hit.

The storm, which began in Henan's Zhengzhou, Kaifeng and Shangqiu cities at Wednesday noon, caused an estimated 2.212 billion yuan (US$323.7 million) in losses, the ministry said.

Chinese meteorologists said the extreme weather, which comprised thunder, lightning, heavy rain, gales, hail and even tornadoes, was rare in these areas.

Wind gusts hit 104 kilometers per hour in Yongcheng City, Henan,the fastest recorded since 1957, said Wang Jianguo, head of the Henan Meteorological Bureau.

"It moved very quickly. It's rather difficult for us to make a forecast," Wang said.


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