Altogether 14 people were killed and 146 others were injured in a tornado that hit two east China provinces on Tuesday, the local governments said.
Seven of the deaths were reported in Gaoyou, a city in Jiangsu Province, where the worst tornado in 50 years also injured 53 people in 11 villages and toppled 715 houses, the city government said on Wednesday.
It said 12 of the injured were in serious condition, and estimated the city's direct economic losses at around 55 million yuan (US$7.2 million).
"The tornado ravaged the Huxi areas of Gaoyou for about an hour," the government said in a press release. "High winds and heavy rain cut off power and telecommunications, ripped roofs off buildings, and uprooted thousands of trees."
Sixteen local companies were closed down after the tornado destroyed their workshops and equipment.
The tornado originated in Tianchang City of neighboring Anhui Province, where it killed another seven people, injured 93 others and destroyed more than 100 homes. Seven bodies were dug out of the rubble.
Of the 93 injured, 35 are in a serious condition. A further 200 people were evacuated.
The winds at the center of the tornado reached speeds of 100 kilometers an hour.
Forecasters are now warning of possible floods along the Huaihe River, which runs through the region. The upper reaches of the river have already reached critical levels.
By Monday, floods had caused 233 deaths and destroyed 118,500 houses in 18 areas, while droughts in the north had left nearly 7.4 million people short of drinking water, the state flood and drought prevention headquarters said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2007)