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19 dead, 45 missing in NW China storms

(Xinhua)

09:58, May 11, 2012

LANZHOU, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The death toll has climbed to 19 and 45 people are missing after hail and torrential rains battered Minxian county in northwest China's Gansu Province Thursday, the local government said Friday.

The stormy weather lasted only an hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., but wreaked havoc in 17 of the county's 18 townships and villages, the county's civil affairs bureau said in a press release.

In the worst-hit areas, precipitation measured nearly 70 mm, it said.

Five people were hospitalized with serious injuries and 1,903 were evacuated following the storm for safety considerations, the document said.

Hail and torrential rains cut power supplies in six townships, damaged several homes, hospitals, schools and 7,374 hectares of cropland and disrupted traffic on two interprovincial highways, it said.

The provincial government sent a work team to Minxian county overnight to oversee rescue and relief work.

In the worst-battered Chabu town, perched at an average altitude of 2,000 meters, more than 800 people were evacuated to village schools and government offices Thursday night.

The local government rationed out instant noodles and bottled water to the crowd, said Yan Yufeng, a top official in town.

Minxian is a mountainous county in Dingxi City, with a population of 450,000. It is 150 km from Zhouqu county, where a devastating train-triggered mudslide killed more than 1,500 people in August 2010.

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