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78 dead, 500 hurt by storms in eastern China
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 23, 2016

Man electrocuted as heavy storms batter Netherlands
The Hague (AFP) June 23, 2016 - Heavy storms swept the Netherlands Thursday leaving one man dead after he was electrocuted in his flooded cellar where he was growing cannabis, police and media said.

The Dutch national weather centre posted an orange alert warning of further flooding from "thunderstorms and heavy rainfall" as insurers estimated there had already been some 20 million euros ($22 million) in damage.

The 45-year-old man was found lying in water in the basement of his Rotterdam home early on Thursday as violent storms battered the west of the low-lying country, the police said.

"He was killed by electrocution," the Rotterdam police said in a statement, indicating that they had opened an investigation but noting that the emergency services had "found cannabis (plants) in the cellar."

The bad weather, which hit the west and centre of the country early Thursday, was to continue for much of the day, with the Dutch national weather service (KNMI) warning of further severe thunderstorms accompanied by hail and high winds.

In Rotterdam, some 26 millimetres (one inch) of rain fell in just 20 minutes early Thursday, the public broadcaster NOS reported.

The central town of Randstad was particularly badly hit, with the Dutch Association of Insurers estimating it had suffered some 20 million euros in damage.

"It's a conservative estimate," a spokesman for the association told the Dutch news agency ANP.

Hurricane-force winds, freak hailstorms, pounding rain and a tornado killed 78 people in China's eastern province of Jiangsu on Thursday and injured nearly 500 others, Xinhua reported.

Whole villages were levelled and huge trees felled when winds of up to 125 kilometres (77 miles) per hour struck around Yancheng city, China's official news agency said.

Some 200 people were left critically injured by the storms and the worst tornado in half a century, which reduced buildings to rubble.

Photos of the scene showed dazed residents near the remains of houses surrounded by tangled telephone wires, splintered wood and toppled poles.

"It was like the end of the world," said Xie Litian, 62, from Donggou township in Funing County, describing how all the other houses in his neighbourhood had been destroyed.

"I heard the gales and ran upstairs to shut the windows," he told Xinhua.

"I had hardly reached the top of the stairs when I heard a boom and saw the entire wall with the windows on it torn away."

President Xi Jinping ordered "all-out rescue efforts" after what Xinhua said was one of the worst disasters ever to hit Jiangsu.

Citizens in Yancheng used social media to offer help to those affected, from medical assistance to using heavy lifting equipment for free.

Crane operator Xiang Shanfeng said he had pulled dozens of people from rubble during the day after posting his number on messaging service WeChat.

"The losses were astonishing," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Many parts of China have been lashed by torrential rains this week as summer rainstorms have been heavier than usual, causing damage across the country.

Flooding is common during the summer monsoon season in the south of China, but rainfall has been particularly heavy this year.

In the centre of the country, heavy floods have killed 22 people and displaced 197,000, state media said on Monday.

Eight people were trapped in a flooded coal mine in southwest China's Guizhou province, Xinhua reported.

Direct economic losses from the floods hit nearly 2.7 billion yuan ($410 million), state media said.

Vice premier Wang Yang said days earlier that China faced volatile weather conditions due to the influence of the El Nino weather system.

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Previous Report
Four die, several injured in freak Poland storms
Warsaw (AFP) June 17, 2016
Violent storms killed four people and injured several others across Poland Friday, also leaving serious property damage in their wake, local media reported. A 61-year-old man died, crushed by a tree while driving his car in the central town of Zgierz. His two passengers were hospitalised in serious condition. Two other men also died, crushed by walls blown over by violent winds in the to ... read more

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