The incident occurred in the provincial capital of Guangzhou.

The thunderstorm began pelting the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport since 8 p.m., delaying 116 flights for over an hour and forcing another 54 flights to be cancelled, Xinhua quoted airport authorities as saying.

The mass delay was the worst situation the airport had faced, its operators said, adding that they had arranged free lodging for nearly 3,000 stranded passengers so far.