Huge hailstorms kill 22 in central China


BEIJING, AFP

At least 22 people were killed when a ferocious storm pummeled the central mainland Chinese city of Zhengzhou with egg-sized hail stones and fierce winds, felling trees and smashing cars, state press said Sunday.

The 20-minute hailstorm struck the capital of Henan province on Friday evening as force eight winds increased the velocity of the falling hail stones, causing havoc throughout the city, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Scores of people suffering head injuries flooded local hospitals seeking treatment, with at least seven deaths directly attributed to being struck by hail, it said.

Five other people were killed and seven injured when the roof of a gas station collapsed, while numerous billboards in the city also came crashing down in the storm, the paper said.

In neighboring Yilin village a feed factory collapsed killing four and injuring two, while the collapse of two warehouses resulted in six dead and nine injured, the report said.

The final death and injury toll was still being tabulated as of Saturday evening, the paper said.

Telecommunications, electricity and water supplies in Zhengzhou were cut temporarily following the storm, while traffic in the city snarled, Xinhua news agency reported.