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Highway collapse kills dozens in southern China

<i>Xinhua News Agency/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>An aerial photo shows rescuers work at the site of a collapsed road section of the Meizhou-Dabu Expressway in Meizhou
Xinhua News Agency/AP via CNN Newsource
An aerial photo shows rescuers work at the site of a collapsed road section of the Meizhou-Dabu Expressway in Meizhou

By Wayne Chang, CNN

(CNN) — A highway collapsed in southern China early on Wednesday after days of torrential rain, sending cars plummeting down a hill and killing dozens of people, Chinese state media reported.

At least 48 people were killed following the collapse of a section of the expressway linking Meizhou city with Dabu county in Guangdong province, according to Ma Zhengyong, Communist Party secretary of Meizhou city.

Some 23 vehicles had been recovered as rescue work continued Thursday, while 30 injured people remain in hospital in stable condition, CCTV said.

The Guangdong provincial government had sent a rescue team of about 500 people, the state broadcaster said.

More than 184 square meters of the highway disintegrated, officials told state news agency Xinhua.

The incident sparked calls to strengthen inspection and reinforcement work of infrastructure to cope with increasingly extreme weather conditions, state media have reported.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned of the “widespread rainfall and strong atmospheric convection” – a cause of unstable weather – saying it could subject the country to more frequent accidents and natural disasters, Xinhua reported, citing an instruction he gave.

Xi ordered authorities to improve alert systems, strengthen emergency planing and identify potential risks.

Extreme weather around the world is becoming more intense and more frequent against the backdrop of a very fast-warming climate.

Southern China has been bombarded with heavy rain in recent weeks.

Guangdong, an economic powerhouse home to 127 million people, has seen widespread flooding that has forced more than 110,000 people to relocate, state media reported, citing the local government.

The floods have killed at least four people in Guangdong, including a rescue worker, Xinhua reported Monday. At least 10 people remain missing, it added.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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CNN’s Nectar Gan contributed reporting.

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