24 dead in NW China storms

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At least 24 people were killed and 37 others remain missing after hail and torrential rains battered a mountainous northwest China county, authorities reported Friday.

甘肃岷县遭遇冰雹灾害 G212国道多处中断(图)

The death toll has climbed to 19 and 45 people are missing after hail and torrential rains battered Minxian county in northwest China's Gansu Province Thursday, the local government said Friday. 

The storms have affected about 36,000 people in Minxian county, Gansu province, forcing the evacuation of 2,930 local residents. Roads were blocked, houses collapsed, and farmland was destroyed by the extreme weather, according to state and local disaster relief agencies.

About 2,000 officials, as well as 800 soldiers and militiamen, have trudged through mud and water into storm-battered areas to rescue trapped villagers.

Minxian's civil affairs bureau put the number of injured locals at 40 in its mid-Friday casualty report. The stormy weather lasted just from 5 to 6 p.m., but wreaked havoc in all of the county's 18 townships, it said.

In the worst-hit areas, precipitation measured nearly 70 mm.

Hail and torrential rain cut power in six townships, damaged several homes, hospitals and schools, disrupted traffic on two interprovincial highways and destroyed over 7,000 hectares of crops, county authorities said.

Minxian is a mountainous county in the city of Dingxi with a population of 450,000. It is located 150 km from Zhouqu county, where a rain-triggered mudslide killed more than 1,500 people in August 2010.

Thursday's rains also triggered floods in two other counties in Dingxi, as well as parts of the city of Longnan and the Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture. No deaths have been reported in those areas.

The national flood control and drought relief headquarters on Friday issued fresh warnings to northwestern provinces, urging them to step up weather monitoring and flood prevention efforts.

The provincial Red Cross organization said it is sending 1,000 quilts and 1,000 coats to Minxian to help with disaster relief efforts. The provincial finance bureau, meanwhile, has earmarked 2 million yuan (317,460 U.S. dollars) to repair damaged water control facilities.

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