The eastern province of Jiangsu was hit by a rare tornado and a hailstorm, leaving at least 78 people dead and 500 injured. Half of them are in critical conditions, joined by 22 killed and 20 missing due to torrential rains in the southern part of the country.

It started around 2 p.m. Locals compared the tornado scene to a doomsday as Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a full deployment of emergency units to help the victims. Winds reached 78 miles per hour as they managed to launch livestock and people all over the place.

Residents look through the rubble of destroyed houses after a tornado in Yancheng, in China’s Jiangsu province, on June 23, 2016. Image courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.

Photos display the remains of schools and homes torn apart by the inclement weather. Cars and trees were thrown all over the city. The Ministry of Civil Affairs informed that electrical power and most communications were cut off during the events. Relief efforts were administered, including tents, beds, floodlights and food for those that had lost their homes in the disaster, which was declared a nationwide emergency.

The province of Jiangsu lies several miles south of Beijing. Its largest city is Yancheng, which hosts over 8 million inhabitants. Although tornadoes do occur in China on a yearly basis, especially in the summer, it is rare that they appear on populated areas. Southern China undergoes annual floods during its second quarter, and its seems that this year turned out to be a rough one.

Earlier this week, severe floods have forced 200,000 people to evacuate from the southern provinces of China. Recent rains have been estimated to have destroyed at least 10,000 houses, a number that is expected to increase due to the inclement weather witnessed by the victims of Jiangsu. Last week, at least 14 people died due to three days of intense rains.

Recent weather conditions have caused thousands of displacements, damage to infrastructure, crop damage, and worsened the already poor drainage infrastructure of the province’s settlements. China is a country that is frequently hit by natural disasters, specifically earthquakes and floods, but it seems that there is a point where prevision and capacity of action are not able to ensure the safety of the country’s inhabitants, something that is true even in the U.S.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang attributed the unprecedented weather conditions to the climatic phenomenon of El Niño, which supposedly has a common effect of weather patterns.

Xingu, a small village in the province was one of the most severely affected by the weather.

“The people inside ran outside, but the wind was too strong so they couldn’t. My family was all inside, they all died. The police then came and took the bodies out, I can’t bear it,” stated villager Wang Shuqing to Associated Press.

There are different accounts regarding the total amount of casualties. Currently, the Jiangsu administration is working towards retrieving hazardous materials that may pose a threat to the environment if left untended. One of the destroyed facilities was a solar panel factory in Yancheng, but there has been no report of any spillage incident.

Source: BBC