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More Hailstorms in Sichuan Destroy Homes and Farmland
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Strong winds and hailstones buffeted southwest China's Sichuan Province again on Monday night, damaging houses and farmland, local authorities said on Tuesday.

The bad weather hit a dozen counties and cities, including provincial capital Chengdu from 11 PM Monday to the early hours Tuesday. Winds gusted at 100 km per hour and 5.58 cm of rain fell, said a spokesman with the Provincial Disaster Relief Office said.

Last Saturday gale-force winds and hail hit 27 counties, cities and districts in Sichuan with the largest hailstones measuring five centimeters in diameter.

Early this month, another hailstorm affected tens of counties in the province. In Xuanhan County alone, 23,000 people were affected, crops on more than 1,300 hectares of farmland were destroyed and more than 100 houses collapsed.

Statistics show that 1.8 million people were affected by the hailstorms. A total of 123,000 people were relocated and 165,000 houses and 38,000 hectares of farmland were damaged or destroyed, the spokesman said.

Direct economic losses are estimated to be 380 million yuan, including 320 million in the farming sector, he said.

The provincial government has allocated one million yuan and 100 tents for stricken areas, and has also dispatched five working teams to guide disaster relief work, he said.

Sichuan has seen abnormal spring weather with the temperature rising to 32 degrees Celsius, a summer level in usual years, the spokesman said,

The rainfall will ease water shortages in the drought-hit area, he said, adding the strong gale will fade away late on Tuesday.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2007)

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