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Tornado injures 34 people

THE worst tornado in a decade ripped through five suburban districts early Monday, injuring 34 people.

City disaster relief officials said seven of the those injured in the Pudong New Area are receiving intensive care at a local hospital.

The tornado also cut through districts of Songjiang and Minhang and the counties of Fengxian and Nanhui.

Toppling billboards, the tornado tore roofs from an estimated 2,000 homes and damaged about 400 hectares of crops.

About 5,000 chickens and ducks were killed and some 4,000 trees felled.

The tornado struck very close to the Pudong International Airport, but no damage was reported there, said airport spokesperson Zhang Xinghua.

Shanghai Flood Control Headquarters reported that an area of 32,000 square metres, including 21 villages in Pudong, suffered heavy damage.

Downed power lines cut electricity in 20 communities.

Bearing the brunt of the storm, Jiuting township in Songjiang District reported damage amounting to 7 million yuan (US$843,373).

Zhang Hongjun, a township official, said more than 130 greenhouses were torn apart by the storm's heavy winds.

Zhelin township, hit by a tornado in late August, was struck again on Monday.

A township official estimated the damage caused by the latest tornado would be about 2.5 million yuan. About 70 hectares of farmland were damaged.

Tornadoes are rare in the region, and to have two in such a short time is even more rare.

"The latest tropical storms to strike the area would seem to increase the probability that more tornadoes will occur," said Yao Zuqing, chief meteorologist with the Shanghai Municipal Meteorological Bureau.

Yao added that in Shanghai, the weather is usually related to typhoons and thunderstorms, making a tornado hard to forecast.

By Monday morning Pudong was inundated, with a rainfall of 65 millimetres in four hours, according to the Shanghai Flood Control.Rainfall in the southern suburb of Fengxian reached 112 millimetres.

Songjiang District has mobilised workers to help farmers rebuild and harvest undamaged crops.


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