China tornado, hailstorm toll surges to 99

Beijing: The death toll from a fierce tornado and hailstorm in China's Jiangsu province rose to 99, with 846 others injured, officials said on Sunday. The deadliest tornado recorded in the area since 1966 was accompanied by strong and gusty winds, heavy rains and hailstorms pummelled through farmland and factories in Yancheng city on Thursday, toppling houses, damaging wire poles and destroying a solar panel factory where hazardous chemicals were stored, Xinhua news agency reported. The city government said 1,591 homeless victims were accommodated in temporary shelters in two counties, and rescuers are rushing to repair electricity, water and telecommunication facilities. Winds of up to 125 kms per hour first swept through several rural communities of Funing and Sheyang counties on the outskirts of Yangcheng. The main concern now is to avoid chemical leaks, some of them toxic such as sulphuric and nitric acids, ammonia, hydrofluoric acid and hydrogen fluoride that were in the solar panels warehouse.