Three die, farmland and trees damaged as storms sweep across China

BEIJING (Reuters) -Three people died in eastern China after strong winds toppled a shipyard crane, authorities said on Sunday, as storms caused damage across the country, including large swaths of farmland.

The deaths of security staff in the city of Wuhu occurred after the 450-tonne crane keeled over on Saturday into the security post where they were stationed, the authorities said.

In Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province in eastern China, large trees were felled on Saturday, crushing vehicles and blocking roads, local media reported.

“The solar water heater on the roof of my mother’s house was blown down. Luckily it didn’t hurt anyone,” a Jiangsu resident wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform.

Hailstorms lashed Wafangdian in the northeastern province of Liaoning, causing an estimated loss of 200 million yuan ($28 million) in damage as it hit 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres), state broadcaster CCTV reported.

A village on the outskirts of Wafangdian received 48.1 millimetres (1.8 inches) of rainfall in one hour on Saturday, the highest across the province, the Liaoning Meteorological Service Centre said.

In the central province of Henan, a Chinese breadbasket where heavy rains have battered crops in recent days, the authorities announced 10 measures on Sunday aimed at increasing grain production, state media reported.

The measures include 275 million yuan for prizes to family farms and cooperatives to encourage high yield, CCTV reported.

These losses in the province that provide about a third of China’s wheat may force higher grain imports by the world’s biggest wheat consumer.

On Friday, heavy rain hit parts of southwest China, including Guangxi, engulfing roads and partially submerging buildings.

China’s meteorological authorities on Sunday renewed a blue alert, the lowest of its four-tier warning system, for rainstorms in regions including Guangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, Henan and Hubei. Up to 120 millimetres (4.7 inches) of rain was expected in the northern part of Hainan province.

With some parts of the southern city of Guangzhou flooded, rescue workers waded through waist-deep water to free residents trapped in vehicles, CCTV reported.

($1 = 7.1273 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Martin Quin Pollard; William Mallard)