The death toll from hurricane-force winds in China has risen to at least 98, with hundreds more injured. On a trip to Uzbekistan, President Xi Jinping has ordered government bodies to provide all necessary assistance.
Whole villages were reportedly leveled and huge trees downed after winds of up to 125 kph (77 mph) struck the Jiangsu region of China.
So far 98 people have been confirmed dead and about 800 injured, the official Xinhua news agency cited local authorities as saying.
The disaster has been declared a national emergency as one of the worst disasters ever to hit Jiangsu, as well as the worst tornado to hit China in half a century.
Torrential downpoursMany parts of China have also been hit by torrential rains
with summer rainstorms heavier than usual.
Nearly 500 people were injured, 200 of them critically, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. In the town of Lixin cars and houses were reportedly destroyed and trees uprooted.
Tents and other emergency supplies were already being sent from Beijing, state broadcaster CCTV said.
The southern part of the country is hit annually during the May-July monsoon season, but this season has been particularly wet, with water levels in some major rivers exceeding those of 1998, when China was hit by disastrous floods that affected 180 million people.
jbh/bk (AFP, AP)