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98 Killed, 800 Injured As Rare, Severe Tornado Ravages China

Jun 27, 2016 09:00 AM EDT
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A tornado accompanied by hailstorms, torrential rains and lightning ripped through eastern China late last week, leaving many dead and injured.

According to a BBC report, the winds roared up to 125 kilometers per hour (78 miles per hour), ravaging homes, farms and factories and leaving people trapped under rubbles and dead bodies lying in open.

"When the tornado hit, the wind was howling and the sky turned as dark as night," a local villager told CNN by phone on Friday as he described how it was like as the tornado devoured his village.

"Almost all the houses here have collapsed," he added.

According to The Associated Press, Jiangsu Gov. Shi Taifeng confirmed 98 deaths, with 800 injuries within Yancheng which has more than seven million residents.

Xinhua news agency described the tornado, which hit parts of Yancheng City about 2:30 p.m., as the worst disaster to ever hit Jiangsu, a province just a short drive from Shanghai.

The disaster was declared a national emergency by Chinese President Xi Jinping while in Uzbekistan on a state visit. Xi immediately ordered "all-out rescue efforts and the prioritization of life-saving measures," according to the Xinhua news agency.

Thousands of rescuers were deployed to search through the rubbles.

Photos showing how the tornado has devastated the province circulated online--upturned vehicles, broken trees and busted light poles and electrical lines.

Independent noted that summers often bring severe weather to China. However, the lack of emergency response teams and awareness on what to do in the face of such calamities made the situation worse.

In addition, drainage infrastructures in many cities are poor. Just this week, floods killed more than 20 people in southern China.

As of now, survivors in the debris had all been rescued, and the clean-up was now under way.

Central government in Beijing has extended their help by providing tents, beds and emergency lights.

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