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1.2 mln people in central China hit by storms, hail

(Xinhua)

16:59, May 10, 2012

CHANGSHA, May 10 (Xinhua) -- More than 1.2 million people in central China's Hunan province have been affected by storms and hail that have wreaked havoc since Tuesday, local flood control officials said Thursday.

A total of 55 warnings were issued for inclement weather between Tuesday and Thursday morning, including 34 rain warnings, five hail warnings, six warnings for high winds and ten for thunderstorms, according to the Hunan provincial meteorological center.

High winds reached a speed of 72 km per hour in Yongshun and Chaling counties. The cities of Jishou and Loudi in western and central Hunan were hit by hail. Central and western Hunan were also badly hit by heavy rains and flooding, according to the center.

The meteorological center said more rains will hit the province Friday.

Direct economic losses caused by the weather have totaled 863 million yuan (137 million U.S. dollars) thus far, according to the provincial flood control headquarters.

The headquarters has prioritized preventing rain-triggered geological disasters and relocating local residents who are in danger in a timely fashion.

The headquarters said more efforts should be made to check water reservoirs and rule them out as safety hazards, adding that reservoirs that have not yet been checked should not be used.

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