A yet-to-be-completed factory building collapsed in a severe thunderstorm Tuesday in northern China, killing 17 and injuring three, but journalists were hindered to report on it, local media said.

The two-story building housing an iron casting company crumbled on Tuesday morning as torrential rain hit Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, according to China News Service.

The building, constructed in the late eighties, collapsed suddenly at around 8:30 am on Tuesday.

Floods blocked roads around the collapsed building, making it hard for rescue vehicles to reach the area.

State media said 20 people, most of them employees of the Tengfei Malleable Iron Casting Co. Ltd., were buried in the collapse, but only three people had been rescued and hospitalized.

Investigators believe the accident was due to heavy rains. The rainfall in Shijiangzhuang was 65.7 mm Tuesday morning, Shijiazhuang's heaviest this year.

One unidentified villager recalled the building, which was under reconstruction, collapsed during a loud thunderstorm.

Around ten journalists from various media companies went to the site of the accident. However, they were hindered by a group of strange people who tried many times to take the cameras away and attacked journalists violently. According to the report, the camera pedestal of Xinhua was broken, the camera from Hebei TV station was taken and destroyed, many cameras were taken away and reporters beaten.

After the assistance of local government the journalists have taken back their equipments, damaged, however.

The site of the accident was cordoned off by the police and rescue operations were still underway.