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At least 16 Chinese killed in violent storms

At least 16 people were killed in rain and hailstorms that triggered flooding and landslides in southern China, officials said 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 Monday.

Rescuers in neighboring 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 neighbors Hong Kong. Two were killed in each of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Chongqing, and one person has been confirmed dead in Guangxi.

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Residents walk past a damaged rooftop after hailstorms hit the area in Dongmen township of Luocheng in southern China's Guangxi province on Monday, March 31. (AFP)

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