Natural disasters over the past week have killed at least 38 people and left thousands homeless in Gulin county, Sichuan. Eight people are missing and eight seriously injured are in hospital in the wake of devastating hailstorms which locals describe as the worst in the county's history. 'We endure disasters and hardship every year,' said Nuo Gan, an official with the mountainous county's Disaster Relief Agency. 'We people here are familiar with drought and floods, and know how to deal with disaster. But we have never seen a storm as violent as this one.' The remote corner of Sichuan is regularly hit by hailstorms and heavy rain. And while early-summer downpours often cause problems, they also bring much-needed drought relief. However, this week's inundation has left the county in bad shape, with the death toll the highest on record. The relief agency estimates that 4,585 homes and 28 schools have been destroyed, leaving 3,621 people without shelter and nearly 2,000 children with nowhere to study. Around 1,462 animals perished while much of the county's farmland is in ruins. Hardest hit were areas on or near the county's many denuded slopes, where torrential rains - which dumped as much as 133mm in the course of a few hours - started massive landslides. Neighbouring counties suffered as well, but Gulin received the brunt of the storm's wrath. According to Mr Nuo, Sichuan provincial leaders have now arrived to direct relief efforts. A large 'anti-natural disaster and relief work team' has been set up and is helping impoverished farmers rebuild their homes.