BEIJING, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — The death toll as a result of severe hail storms and torrential rains in a mountainous region in northwestern China on late Thursday afternoon has risen to at least 40, state-run media reported on Saturday. The toll is expected to rise.
The brief but harsh storm in China’s northwestern province of Gansu mostly affected Minxian county, where all townships reported heavy damage. It began at around 5 p.m. local time on Thursday and lasted about an hour, enough time to damage or destroy tens of thousands of buildings.
Director Xu Guangyao of the Minxian county civil affairs bureau told the state-run Xinhua news agency that the confirmed death toll stood at 40 as of 3 p.m. on Saturday, while at least 18 others remain missing. Another 87 people have been hospitalized, including some who are seriously injured.
On Friday, a Ministry of Civil Affairs spokesperson said the hail storms and heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in the mountainous region, collapsing 2,844 houses, damaging 29,878 houses, destroying 13,000 hectares (32,000 acre) of crops, and affecting more than 358,000 people across 31 townships in the counties of Minxian, Zhangxian and Weiyuan.
China’s National Disaster Reduction Committee and the Civil Affairs Ministry on Friday also raised the level of emergency response from level 4 to level 3. A total of 950 tents, 1,270 beds and other relief supplies have already been sent to the disaster-stricken area, but more supplies are needed for the more than 30,000 people who have been evacuated.