78 dead after powerful tornado
A powerful tornado and hailstorm struck the outskirts of an eastern Chinese city yesterday, killing at least 78 people and destroying buildings, smashing trees and flipping vehicles on their roofs.
The tornado hit a densely populated area of farms and factories near the city of Yancheng in Jiangsu province, about 500 miles south of Beijing.
Nearly 500 of people were injured, 200 of them critically, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Roads were blocked with trees, downed power lines and other debris, while heavy rain and the possibility of further hailstorms and even more tornados was complicating rescue efforts, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The disaster has been declared a national-level emergency, and on a trip to Uzbekistan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, ordered central government bodies to provide all necessary assistance.
Tents and other emergency supplies were already being sent from Beijing, CCTV said.
The network showed people carrying the injured to hospitals, cars and trucks lying upside down, street light poles snapped in half, and steel electricity pylons crumpled and lying on their sides. Power and telephone communications were knocked out over a broad area.
"I heard the gales and ran upstairs to shut the windows," Xinhua quoted area resident Xie Litian, 62, as saying. "I had hardly reached the top of the stairs when I heard a boom and saw the entire wall with the windows on it torn away."
The roof then collapsed as he raced downstairs, Xie said. After sheltering in a corner for 20 minutes, he emerged to find the neighbourhood transformed into a wasteland. "It was like the end of the world," he said.