Asia-Pacific

China: Violent storms kill 18 in Guangdong province

Damage after a hailstorm, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province April 17, 2011
Image caption Guangdong factories have been badly hit by hailstorms and strong winds

Violent storms in southern China have killed at least 18 people and injured more than 150, state media report.

Gale-force winds, heavy rains and hailstones battered Guangdong province at the weekend, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

The authorities say those who died where struck by falling objects or collapsing walls.

The extreme weather has caused millions of dollars of damage to buildings as well as farmland, officials said.

The storms, packing winds of up to 164 km/h swept through the provincial capital, Guangzhou, and the nearby cities of Foshan, Dongguan and Zhaoqing.

The storms have affected more than 3,200 people, and at least 45 houses have been destroyed, a spokesman from the province's flood control headquarters was cited by Xinhua as saying.

The civil affairs ministry put the cost of the damage at 96m yuan ($14.7m). About 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) of crops were damaged, state media reported.

The local government has begun a relief mission to provide aid to those affected, and move the injured to hospital.

Guangdong province is the manufacturing heartland of China.

Thousands of factories produce goods for export round the globe - but there have been no reports of any serious damage to assembly lines.

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