Rescuers carry children to safety in flood-stricken Anyang

More cities were inundated and crops destroyed as the severe weather spread northwards, with the official Xinhua news agency reporting direct economic losses of 1.22 billion yuan ($189 million).

The provincial weather bureau raised the storm alert on Thursday for four cities in the north of Henan - Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi and Jiaozuo - to red, the highest tier of a four-step color-coded weather warning system.

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