A whirlwind known as a dust devil tore through a park, causing two children to die, and injuring 20 other individuals on March 31, according to mainland Chinese media. The dust devil struck in Henan Province, China, at a park called the Ten-Thousand Acre Pear Park.
Of the 20 injured, 1 child is in the intensive care unit at a local hospital, and the other 19 are in a stable condition, according to the state-mouthpiece China Central Television.
The dust storm hit at what appeared to be a local market. Brightly colored tents and stands were knocked over as the dust whipped through the area.
“In the afternoon today at about 3 p.m., a gust of sand suddenly blew upward in front of us, way up high,” an unnamed woman told the Beijing Times in a phone interview. “The next thing that we saw was the bounce house where the kids were playing get lifted up into the air. The bounce house was thrown about 150 meters away. I saw two kids fall from the house.”
“That whole place was a mess—there were kids screaming and crying,” the unnamed woman told the Beijing Times. “Some places that weren’t too far from me had kids lying on the ground, and parents were madly searching for their kids.”
“I saw two children up in the sky, about 20 to 30 meters up, and then they fell to the ground,” a woman named Li told the Beijing News. “Everything was crazy. Other than the bounce house, there were other people in the area trying to do business, and all of their stuff was tossed everywhere. The scene was total chaos. Parents were looking for their kids, the kids were crying loudly.”
Li was interviewed along with two others named Cao and Liu who had also witnessed the tornado.
“I was horrified, because when I saw the bounce house, I knew my child was still in there. My kid is 4-years-old, but nothing happened to him,” Cao told the Beijing News. She said her child was in a third bounce house, away from the two that were picked up. The tornado passed it by.
“The place was in chaos, everyone was screaming,” Cao said in the video. “Our kid was off school today so we went to have some fun. When we were on our way back, we saw some kids on the road who were bleeding from their head. Parents were carrying their kids running out of there.”
Another woman named Liu said her she saw the whirlwind from far away. When she went inside the park, she said she saw about 10 kids who had blood on their faces. It was her first time seeing such a scene.
Dust devils are vertical wind columns that usually form in dry and sunny conditions.