51 killed by powerful tornado in China

BEIJING: A powerful tornado killed 51 people and destroyed large numbers of buildings Thursday in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, state media reported.

The tornado hit near the city of Yancheng, according to state broadcaster CCTV and other official media. They said large numbers of people were injured and roads were blocked.

CCTV showed people carrying the injured to hospitals, cars and trucks flipped over on their roofs, street light poles snapped in half, and steel electricity pylons crumpled and lying on their side.

The Jiangsu provincial fire and rescue service provided no word on casualties but said on its microblog that the storm was accompanied by hail. Photos posted online showed a wrecked three-story schoolhouse with large trees strewn on its playing field.

Southern and eastern China have experienced weeks of torrential rain and storms that have caused widespread flooding and dozens of casualties.

The southern part of the country is hit every year during the monsoon season of May, June and July, but this rainy season has been particularly wet.

Water levels in some major rivers have exceeded those of 1998, when China was hit by disastrous floods that affected 180 million people, according to state media reports.