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Storms Batter Sichuan, Destroying Homes and Farmland
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Strong gales and hailstones have lashed southwest China's Sichuan Province, destroying houses and farmland, local authorities said on Monday.

The extreme weather conditions hit 27 counties, cities and districts of Sichuan on Saturday when the wind speed reached 100 km per hour and the largest hailstones measured five centimeters in diameter, a spokesman with the Provincial Disaster Relief Office said.

Latest statistics show that 1.76 million people were affected. A total of 123,000 people were relocated and 165,000 houses and 38,000 hectares of farmland were ruined, the spokesman said.

The direct economic losses are estimated to be 380 million yuan (US$47.5 million), including 320 million (US$40 million) in agriculture, he said.

The provincial government have allocated one million yuan (US$125,000) and 100 tents for the disaster-stricken areas, and has also dispatched five working teams to guide the disaster relief work there, he said.

Sichuan has seen abnormal weather in recent days with the temperature even rising to 32 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said,

The local meteorological station forecast thunderstorms and showers in most parts of the province from Monday night until Tuesday morning, and further gales and hail in other parts of the province.

(Xinhua News Agency April 16, 2007)

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