Violent thunderstorms lashed parts of China's southern industrial heartland, killing 18 people and injuring dozens, authorities said Monday.

Guangdong province's Civil Affairs Bureau said hail, rain and gale-force winds struck the provincial capital of Guangzhou on Sunday afternoon along with the nearby cities of Foshan, Dongguan and Zhaoqing.

Victims were struck by falling objects and collapsing walls and work sheds, with 155 people injured and 380 left homeless, the bureau said.

It estimated damages at $13.5 million Cdn, with at least 45 buildings wrecked and about 1,000 hectares of crops damaged.

The region is home to much of China's crucial export manufacturing sector, although there was no immediate indication of serious damage to assembly lines.