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Tornado pummels Guangdong areas, kills 6
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-11 09:23

At least six people were killed and more than 100 injured, including 22 seriously, when a tornado struck Huilai County and the city of Lufeng in the eastern part of South China's Guangdong Province over the weekend.

Tiles from houses in Qishi Township in Huilai County, South China's Guangdong Province, are swept away by a tornado. The tornado hit Qishi and Jiazi townships on Saturday, killing six people. [newsphoto]

Those killed included a pregnant woman and two 12- and 14-year-old students, both girls.

Wu Xiuzhen, 39, who was four months pregnant, was sent flying 10 metres into the sky while she was working in her fields. Wu, a mother of four, died in her fall during the Mother's Day incident.

And 10 seriously injured villagers have been sent to Shantou City People's Hospital for treatment where medical standards are much better.

Huilai's Qishi Township and Lufeng's Jiazi Township were hardest hit by the ravaging tornado, generally seen at such a fierce level only once per century.

More than 28,310 people in four villages in Qishi Township were affected when 204 houses were destroyed, with more than 500 other structures damaged.

Most of the houses had their roofs blown off.

A family of six had to hide under its beds to escape the tornado's fury.

In Qishi Township alone, more than 200 farmers from 60 families were left homeless.

And about 330 hectares of lychee and many water melons were also destroyed, officials said, while many sections of river and coastal dykes and highways were breached. Water and electric supplies in some villages were suspended.

Economic losses caused by the disaster have been estimated at more than 31 million yuan (US$3.75 million).

The Guangdong provincial government has sent a relief team to the areas to help with recovery work.

And every family has been offered 5,000 yuan (US$600)to help rebuild their homes.

The victims have been provided with food and clothing by local governments.

The provincial government has urged everyone to do their best to aid the injured and to assist in restoring agricultural production as soon as possible.

In another development, the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Water Conservancy yesterday issued an emergency circular urging government departments at all levels throughout the province to prepare for floods that may strike Guangdong in the coming months.

The notice came after water levels in Xijiang, Dongjiang and Beijiang, the three major tributaries of the Pearl River, recently began rising to their warning levels because of the heavy rainfall in the past week.

And an official from the Guangdong Provincial Flood Control Department yesterday warned the Pearl River and its tributaries have entered into the flood season, threatening the southern Chinese province.

"The cities and counties in the coastal areas and along the Pearl River have to pay even greater attention to taking precautions against such disasters which frequently hit Guangdong every summer," the official said.

He urged the cities and counties to expand investments in water containment construction and reinforcements of coastal and river dykes and dams.

Guangdong, which is located in the subtropical strip and enjoys plenty of rainfall, is expected to be battered by even more floods and typhoons this year due to recent unstable weather.

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