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China: 15 Dead in Violent Hailstorm - 2002-07-20

Chinese media reports say a violent hailstorm in central China has left at least 15 people dead, with many more in hospitals suffering from head wounds.

The Reuters news service quoted state media and local officials saying giant hailstones, some the size of eggs, struck parts of Henan province on Friday evening. The force of the storm uprooted trees, smashed car windows, caused buildings to collapse and cut electricity in some areas.

The reports said the storm moved through rapidly, lasting only about a half an hour. Chinese radio said all the ambulances in the cities of Zhengzhou and Luoyang had to be called out to transport victims to hospital emergency rooms.

A Zhengzhou government official said the death toll of 15 was only for cities in the affected area along the south bank of the Yellow River.