BEIJING (AFP) - Southern China was warned on Friday to prepare for more heavy rain and hailstorms after 24 people died when severe weather lashed five provinces, including a "super-tornado" in one city and egg-sized hailstones.
The extreme weather will continue until Sunday, the China Meteorological Centre said, after parts of the country were battered by huge hailstorms and heavy rain which caused widespread devastation and a ferry to capsize.
"All parts of southern China should take measures to be on guard against the negative influence of thunder and lightning, high wind and hail," the meteorological centre said.
The storms began on Tuesday, but climaxed the following day when a ferry overturned in a river in the city of Nanping, in the south-eastern province of Fujian, killing 11 people.
Chinese newspapers on Friday showed images of overturned cars and flattened buildings from Dongguan, in Guangdong province in the south, the scene of nine deaths during the storm.
The city was hit by a "super tornado" on Wednesday afternoon, making it difficult for emergency response teams to react, the China Daily said, citing a local official.
Force eight winds swept through the area, the newspaper added.
Online news reports showed images of egg-sized hailstones and car windows smashed by the force of the storm. Other reports said the strong winds had caused a refrigerator to be blown from a store, narrowly missing a passing motorist.
Most of the deaths in Dongguan were caused by residential buildings collapsing.
Across the storm region a total of 2,000 structures collapsed and 248,000 were damaged, media reported.
Local authorities in Nanping said they were continuing to investigate the number of missing from the ferry accident. The official Xinhua news agency said four people had not been found.
Other provinces affected by storms and torrential rain were nearby Jiangxi, Hunan in central China and Guizhou in the south-west.
About 215,000 people were evacuated from their homes and the economic loss is estimated at 1.31 billion yuan (S$266 million), the China Daily cited the ministry of civil affairs as saying.