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China: 19 killed after highway collapses in southern Guangdong province amid heavy rains

A 17.9-metre-long section of the highway collapsed in Guangdong's Meizhou city on Tuesday, sending 18 cars down the slope, according to authorities. This came after a powerful tornado struck the province on Saturday, killing at least five people.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Beijing Updated on: May 01, 2024 12:44 IST
China, China accident, Guangdong province, tornado
Image Source : REUTERS (FILE) The highway collapse happened days after the Guangdong province was struck by a powerful tornado.

Beijing: At least 19 people were killed after a section of a highway collapsed early Wednesday in southern China after the area experienced heavy rains recently, according to local officials. As many as 18 cars fell down a slope after a 17.9-metre-long section of the highway collapsed, according to a statement from authorities in Guangdong province's Meizhou city.

Witnesses told local media they heard a loud noise and saw a hole open up several meters wide behind them after driving past the section of the road just before it collapsed. Video and photos in local media showed smoke and fire at the scene, with highway rails slanting downward into the flames. Blackened cars could also be seen on the slope leading down from the highway.

This came after Chinese state media on Sunday showed wide devastation in part of the southern city of Guangzhou after a tornado swept through the day before, killing five people, injuring dozens of others and damaging more than 140 buildings. As businesses and residents began cleaning debris, the images showed block upon block of devastation in the hardest-hit areas with a few clusters of buildings standing amid the destruction, a truck overturned on its side and cars crushed by rubble. The sheet metal roofs on some buildings were torn off.

The tornado on Saturday also injured 33 people and knocked out power in the area. The tornado, which struck during an afternoon thunderstorm that also brought hail, damaged 141 factory buildings, according to authorities. They said no homes were destroyed, though a news website under the Southern Media Group reported that some had broken windows.

The tornado hit several villages in Guangzhou’s Baiyun district. In one, packing material known as “pearl cotton” hung from buildings and trees, a report on the Southern Media website said. It blew into the compound of a nearby furniture company, where workers took shelter in a private home after the metal roof was ripped off their building, the news website reported. Workers were rolling up the material to be carted away for disposal on Sunday. Last year, China's Jiangsu was hit by a violent tornado which killed 10 people after torrential rain lashed China's southeast, causing massive evacuations and landslides in the wake of unrelenting storms brought on by the remnants of Typhoon Haikui.

Heavy rainstorms swept across southern China in the past six days, killing several people in riverside cities. The two cities in Guangdong province are among the worst-hit areas of sustained torrential rains that began late last week. Floods also battered neighbouring Jiangxi province. CCTV, citing the Jiangxi Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said 459 people had been evacuated. Rains and floods have affected 1,500 hectares of crops in the province and caused financial losses of more than 41 million yuan ($5.7 million).

The intense convective weather in southern China was caused by a stronger-than-normal subtropical high, a semi-permanent high-pressure system circulating north of the equator. The subtropical high led to warmer temperatures that drew in more moisture-laden air from the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal, Chinese meteorologists said, resulting in intense precipitation.

(with inputs from agencies)

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