China: eleven killed in Beijing as heavy rains hit city for a fourth day

Eleven people have died due to heavy rainfall in Beijing, Chinese state media has reported, as a relentless downpour stretched into a fourth day.

Another 27 people were missing as of 6 am (2200 GMT) on Tuesday, the state broadcaster CCTV reported, after a typhoon brought northern China non-stop precipitation and widespread flooding.

Rivers have swollen to dangerous levels, prompting Beijing to use a flood storage reservoir for the first time since it was built 25 years ago. As of Monday night, China’s capital city had sealed off over 100 mountain roads and evacuated more than 52,000 people from their homes.

Doksuri, one of the strongest storms to hit China in years, weakened as it rolled inland, but authorities warned that risks of further floods and other geological disasters remained.

Localised thunderstorms and strong winds were forecast for Beijing on Tuesday, as well as for the neighbouring city of Tianjin, as well as Hebei province, CCTV said.

Several subway lines in the capital, including trains in western suburbs, were suspended on Tuesday. Beijing’s Mentougou district in the west saw dramatic damage a day before, after torrential rains turned roads into rivers, sweeping cars away.

People walk by a damaged riverbank in Beijing’s Mentougou district, where flooding has caused severe damage.
People walk by a damaged riverbank in Beijing’s Mentougou district, where flooding killed at least two people on Monday and caused severe damage. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

A military unit of 26 soldiers and four helicopters launched an “airdrop rescue mission” in the early hours of Tuesday to deliver hundreds of food packages and ponchos to people stranded in and around a train station in Mentougou.

“On July 31, areas in Beijing including Fangshan and Mentougou suffered serious damage from water, causing three trains to get trapped on their routes, and road traffic in some areas was completely cut off,” CCTV reported.

The broadcaster was running live images on Tuesday morning of a row of buses half submerged in flood water in the south-west neighbourhood of Fangshan.

Beijing recorded an average of 260mm (10.2 inches) of rainfall from Saturday to early Monday, with the Changping Wangjiayuan Reservoir logging the largest reading at 738.3mm (29 inches).

The city government said the rainfall over the past few days has exceeded records from a severe storm 11 years ago. In July 2012, Beijing was hit by the strongest storm since the founding of modern China, with the city receiving 190.3mm of rain in one day, affecting more than 1.6 million people.

A man wades past a damaged car along a flooded street in Beijing’s Mentougou district, where cars were washed away and subway stations were inundated.
A man wades past a damaged car along a flooded street in Beijing’s Mentougou district, where cars were washed away and subway stations were inundated. Photograph: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

South of Beijing, in Hebei province, precipitation from Saturday to Monday recorded by one local weather station totalled more than the amount normally seen over half a year, with rainfall amounting to 1,003mm (39 inches) for the three-day period. Precipitation in the county where the station is located averages 605mm a year.

Hebei authorities have opened flood storage and diversion areas to manage flooding risks in the Hai river basin, where five rivers converge in a region nearly the size of Britain.

Doksuri swept through coastal Fujian last week, taking a 14.76 billion yuan ($2.06bn) direct economic toll on the south-eastern province and affecting almost 2.7 million people, with close to 562,000 evacuated from homes and more than 18,000 houses destroyed, state media reported.

The country is already preparing for the arrival of another typhoon – Khanun, the sixth such storm of the year – as it nears China’s east coast.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

source: theguardian.com