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Beijing - The strongest recorded tornado to hit a southern Chinese city left at least nine people dead and 272 injured, 11 of them in critical condition, reports said on Thursday.
The tornado brought winds gusting at up to 177 kilometres per hour and torrential rain and hail to Dongguan and nearby areas of Guangdong province late Wednesday, state media said.
It was the strongest tornado to hit Dongguan since meteorological records began, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Deng Haoquan, a local government spokesman, as saying.
By Thursday morning, authorities had recorded nine deaths and 158 people treated in hospital, including 11 in critical condition, Deng said.
The semi-official China News Service published online photographs of several prefabricated buildings that had collapsed or lost their roofs.
Other photographs showed local residents holding walnut-sized hailstones, and showed holes where hailstones had penetrated some roofs, fallen trees and signposts, and an overturned car.
Nearby areas of Hunan and Jiangsu provinces were also hit by hailstorms on Wednesday, reports said.
At least three people died and more than 50 were injured in Hunan's Daoxian county, county government spokesman Zhou Jingzhong was quoted as saying. - Sapa-dpa