Over 10,000 houses were damaged and at least 26 people were injured during a 20-minute hail storm, with hailstones as large as 8-10 cm in diameter, in northern Lao Cai province yesterday, authorities reported. The hail suddenly began simultaneously in 26 communes and towns in Muong Khuong District, 50 km from Lao Cai City, at midnight Wednesday. Numerous houses were damaged or even knocked down, and many trees and crops were destroyed. Luckily no deaths have been reported thus far. Vang Pha Cui, a local, aid, “I have never seen any hail that was as powerful as this hail in the last 50 years. I had to hide under my bed to avoid being hit by hailstones that were as large as adults’ fists or bowls, which damaged houses and broke many things.”

     The disaster left many residents homeless as their houses had been destroyed. One of the victims was Tai Van Thao, who said, “I could not believe my eyes when I saw my house and most things inside destroyed be the hail that lasted for about 20 minutes.” According to the National Search and Rescue Committee, more than 10,500 houses have been damaged and at least 26 people were injured in the storm. Another hailstorm occurred yesterday in three districts of Ha Giang Province, which borders Lao Cai, damaging about 80 houses, the committee said. Six days ago, a powerful hail together with a vortex struck Huong Khe District, central Ha Tinh Province on March 22, and caused damage to over 100 houses. Two day earlier, the same disaster hit some mountainous districts in central Quang Nam Province and Phong Dien District in Thua Thien-Hue Province. Le Thanh Hai, deputy director of the Central Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Center, warned that hails or thunderstorms may occur in any areas between March and May, the transitional period between dry and wet seasons in Vietnam. However, the hail in Lao Cai yesterday, with many hailstones measuring up to 10 cm in diameter, is very rare. Usually, hailstones measuring 2-4 cm, or as large as a chicken egg, are normally seen in hails, he added.

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