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All stuck in the middle of a storm

Vehicles are gridlocked at a crossroads during a heavy downpour in Xian in China's Shaanxi province on Sunday.

Torrential rain lashing the north in the past week has left nearly 300 people dead or missing, the official Xinhua news agency said.

More than half a million people in the hardest-hit provinces of Henan and Hebei have been displaced, with 125,000 people in urgent need of basic living assistance, Xinhua said yesterday, citing the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The storms have left 164 dead and 125 missing.

Four officials were suspended on Sunday for "dereliction of duty" during a devastating flash flood that occurred last week near the town of Xingtai, in Hebei.

The incident, which left at least 25 dead and 13 missing, provoked outrage after locals accused the authorities of failing to warn them of the impending deluge - and trying to cover up the cause of the disaster.

Flooding is not uncommon during the summer monsoon season in northern China, but rains have been unusually heavy across the country this year.

Earlier this month, heavy downpours wreaked havoc in central and southern China, flooding several major cities and causing over 200 deaths, state media said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'All stuck in the middle of a storm'. Print Edition | Subscribe