At least 16 killed in storms in southern China

Workers carry a cabinet as they clean up amid debris of temporary sheds at a construction site after being hit by a heavy rainstorm in Dongguan, Guangdong province March 30, 2014. At least 16 people were killed in rain and hailstorms that triggered f
Workers carry a cabinet as they clean up amid debris of temporary sheds at a construction site after being hit by a heavy rainstorm in Dongguan, Guangdong province March 30, 2014. At least 16 people were killed in rain and hailstorms that triggered flooding and landslides in southern China, officials said on Monday, March 31, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - At least 16 people were killed in rain and hailstorms that triggered flooding and landslides in southern China, officials said on Monday.

The severe weather, which began last Friday, has affected seven provinces and municipalities, China's ministry of civil affairs said in a statement, leaving 16 people dead and two missing.

The storms are the first round of heavy rainfall this spring, the ministry said.

In Guangdong province, one of the hardest-hit areas, flights at major airports ground to a halt and classes in some cities were suspended on Monday.

Rescuers in neighbouring Guangxi province have been searching since Sunday for a mine worker who was buried in a landslide, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The deluge was so severe in Hong Kong on Sunday that hailstones smashed the windows of a shopping mall in the Kowloon Tong district.

Television footage showed umbrella-carrying shoppers wading through the drenched mall.

Of the 16 dead in mainland China, seven were from Guangdong province, which neighbours Hong Kong. Two were killed in each of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Chongqing, and one person has been confirmed dead in Guangxi.