BEIJING, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Hailstorms have claimed 129 lives and left nine people missing in China since January, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Wednesday.
The country recorded a higher incidence of hailstorms in the first half of this year than the same period of 2011, the ministry said.
All provincial divisions except Shanghai have been stricken by hailstorms of different degrees of severity. Inner Mongolia in north, Liaoning Province in northeast and Jiangxi Province in east reported at least five more days of such weather than the same period of last year.
According to the ministry's survey, about 23 million people have been affected by hailstorms and 1.35 million of them either were evacuated or needed immediate help.
In terms of economic loss, about 48,000 houses collapsed and 3.75 million hectares of farm produce were totally destroyed while the direct loss was estimated to be 22.59 billion yuan (3.59 billion U.S. dollars), the ministry said.