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May 7, 2010

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Wild weather takes heavy toll - 39 dead, hundreds injured

A TORNADO and gales have swept through southwestern China, killing at least 39 people and injuring nearly 200.

More than 70,000 people were relocated after torrential rain, hail and wind lashed the city of Chongqing beginning on Wednesday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday on its Website.

At least 29 people were killed, one person was missing and 190 others had been hurt in Chongqing alone, the ministry said.

Thousands of buildings were damaged in the hardest- hit counties of Liangping and Dianjiang, according to disaster-relief officials.

In Dianjiang County, storms destroyed 980 residential buildings and damaged more than 10,000. The damage was estimated at more than 120 million yuan (US$17.6 million), a county government spokesman said.

The gales, rain and hail that lashed the city from Wednesday night also left 190 people injured as of 5pm yesterday, according to the municipal meteorological bureau.

Medical teams

The Chongqing Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau has sent 300 tents, 1,000 quilts and 400 emergency lights to the affected regions.

In addition, municipal health authorities have dispatched two teams of medical workers to Dianjiang and Liangping counties.

The municipal government also issued more than 12 million yuan in disaster relief to Dianjiang, Liangping and Pengshui counties and Fuling District.

In neighboring Guizhou Province, six people are dead and three others missing after landslides on Wednesday night.

The rain-triggered landslides buried eight houses in three villages in Magu Township, Hezhang County, the county government said.

Six bodies had been recovered by 8pm yesterday. The local government previously said five people were dead and four others missing.

The county government has ordered watercourses to be cleared, dikes to be reinforced and flood discharge tunnels built to prevent further disasters.

Heavy rain from Wednesday night to yesterday morning left four people dead and one missing in Xinhua County in the central province of Hunan, and six others missing in Shaoguan City of south China's Guangdong Province.

In the eastern province of Jiangxi, torrential rain forced more than 3,500 people to evacuate their homes in Xunwu, Dingnan and Longnan counties by noon yesterday, said a spokesman for the provincial flood- control and drought-relief headquarters.

In the hardest-hit county of Xunwu, floods covered 164 hectares of crops and disrupted traffic on seven roads.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the State Disaster Relief Commission have sent emergency teams to the disaster-hit areas in Chongqing to oversee relief work.

The ministry issued a grade IV emergency response yesterday, requiring a 24-hour alert, daily damage reports and provision of relief funds and material within 48 hours.


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