BEIJING // The death toll from fierce storms and torrential rains that ravaged southern China this week has risen to at least 51 people with tens of thousands left homeless, state media reported today. The extreme weather hit southern parts of China overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, leaving at least 190 injured and a further 11 missing, the official Xinhua news agency said. The southwestern municipality of Chongqing was the worst hit after a tornado and gale-force winds killed 29 people, destroyed homes, uprooted trees, flooded roads and caused landslides.
More than 70,000 people were displaced in Chongqing, according to the civil affairs ministry. Authorities estimate that direct economic losses in Chongqing ? which has more than 30 million people ? could come to US$61.5 million (Dhs 226 million), China National Radio said. Reports have said the bad weather was triggered when a heatwave in the south collided with a cold front from the north. In neighbouring Hunan province, heavy rain triggered landslides, affecting more than 380,000 people and leaving five dead. The government had already moved 21,000 residents to safer areas, Xinhua reported.
In the southern province of Guangdong, where four people were killed, heavy rains destroyed thousands of hectares of crops and authorities were predicting more downpours at the end of the weekend, a separate Xinhua report said. Meanwhile, torrential rain in the eastern province of Jiangxi killed seven people, cut off roads and flooded schools and villages, it added. The remaining six people died in rain-triggered landslides in the southwestern province of Guizhou.