ZHENGZHOU -- At least 20 people are dead and 117 are seriously injured after a storm swept central China's Henan and eastern Anhui provinces, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Gales, hailstones and heavy rain whipped Henan's Shangqiu and Kaifeng cities and Anhui's Suzhou, Bozhou and Huaibei Wednesday night.
Eighteen of the fatalities were reported in Shangqiu and two in Kaifeng, said a report from the ministry.
As of 6 p.m, about 3.47 million people had been affected by power and water supply stoppages or damage to their homes, 1,546 were evacuated, 9,856 houses collapsed, and more than 40,000 houses damaged, according to the report.
A local government official in Henan said the storm, which began around 8 p.m. Wednesday and lasted 50 minutes, hit four counties in Shangqiu City, with winds of up to 108 km per hour.
Trees were uprooted and crushed houses, causing the casualties, he said. Water and electricity supplies were cut in many areas.
Henan provincial government had allocated relief funds of 3 million yuan (US$439,010) and Shangqiu municipal government 1 million yuan to provide basic necessities of those affected.
The ministry had sent a team to Henan to help with disaster relief.