Tornado hits southwestern China, killing 29, injuring nearly 200; thousands relocated

BEIJING (AP) — A tornado and strong winds swept through southwestern China early Thursday, killing at least 29 people and injuring nearly 200, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

More than 70,000 people were relocated after torrential wind, rain and hail lashed the city of Chongqing overnight, the ministry said on its website. One person remains missing and 190 have been hurt, it said.

Thousands of buildings have been damaged in the hardest hit counties of Liangping and Dianjiang, disaster relief officials said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

In Dianjiang, storms destroyed 980 residential buildings and damaged more than 10,000. The damage was estimated at more than 120 million yuan ($17.6 million), a county government spokesman said.

Xinhua said the tornado struck the area around 2 a.m. Thursday. Winds reached up to 70 miles per hour (112 kph), while heavy rains pounded the area over a 24-hour period.

The Chongqing municipal civil affairs bureau has sent 300 tents, 1,000 quilts and emergency lights to the affected regions. In addition, municipal health authorities have dispatched two teams of medical workers to storm-hit areas.