A hailstorm hit the northern mountainous provinces of Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Lao Cai on March 27, injuring dozens of people while damaging tens of thousands of houses.

Lao Cai was hardest hit with 33 people being injured and 5,700 houses damaged. More than 10,500 households in total and many schools and health clinics were affected.

Fifteen of the injured were taken to hospital after being hit by massive hailstones that rained down for 15 minutes.

The hailstorm hit Lao Cai at dawn on the day, where hailstones had an average diameter of 5-10cm.

Vu Thanh Tuan, a resident in Muong Khuong district, said it was the heaviest hail fall he had ever seen, describing hailstones in the size of a person's fist.

Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Ma Quang Trung said the storm was unusual.

He said it was the heaviest hailstorm so far in the province, and hit the three districts of Muong Khuong, Bac Ha and Si Ma Cai.

Previously, hailstorms only occurred on a small scale and were limited to some communes, he said.

Another hailstorm hit the province in the morning of the same day, at around 10am but was not so heavy, he added.

Hailstorms also caused great damage to the property of local people in Cao Bang and Ha Giang.

As many as 341 houses and hundreds of crops in Cao Bang were damaged, according to initial reports from local authorities.

Authorities are taking drastic measures to help local residents deal with the aftermath of the storm.-VNA