Beijing's heaviest rain in 6 decades kills at least 77 people,underground drainage system questioned

Updated:Thu, Jul 26, 2012 10:32 AM   By Bernd Chang

Beijing heavy rain,Drainage system

A foreign man tried to swim across the street through the waist-deep water at the gate of a residential complex in Chaoyang District. The Beijing heaviest rain in 6 decades on July 21 have left at least 37 people dead. Chinese netizens are questioning the quality of the drainage system of Beijing.

The Saturday heaviest rain in 6 decades in Beijing has left at least 77 people dead. While some Chinese netizens mock the disaster by saying 'Go to Beijing to see the sea', others question the quality of the underground drainage system.
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The heavy rain of July 21 Saturday in the Chinese capital Beijing has left at least 77 people dead. As of 4 a.m. Sunday, as many as 30,000 residents in districts of Fangshan, Huairou, Mentougou and Pinggu as well as Miyun and Yanqing counties were relocated.

The rain Saturday night knocked down trees in Beijing and trapped cars and buses in waist-deep water in some areas.

As of 17 p.m. July 22, Beijing authority reported 37 residents were dead, among whom 25 drowned, 6 were stoned to death by collapsed buildings, 1 was strucked by lightning, 5 died of electric shock from fallen electric wires in waters. So far 22 were identified, the identity of other 15 were under investigation. Another 7 were reported missing.

The Beijing city government said 77 bodies of victims from July 21 Saturday’s downpour had been found in the city as of July 26 Thursday, 66 of whom have been identified. Among the victims, 46 drowned, 3 were stoned to death by collapsed buildings, 1 was strucked by lightning, 5 died of electric shock from fallen electric wires in waters, 2 were stoned to death by fallen objects, 2 were caused death by mud-rock flow, 2 died of trauma shock. Nearly half of the victims were found in worst-hit Fangshan district, a rural community in the city’s mountainous outskirts, the government said on its microblog.

Earlier July 26 Thursday, residents in Beijing’s worst-affected Fangshan district were compiling their own death toll online using both public and private chat rooms on the popular Baidu website. The toll was not being posted publicly, but some online accounts said the number was more than 300. There was no way to independently confirm the tally.

According to statistics at 20 state-level climate observing stations in Beijing, the city received 163.7 mm of precipitation on average as of 2 a.m. Sunday, the largest since weather records began in 1951, making the July 21 Beijing downpour the heaviest rain in 6 decades, said Guo Wenli, director of the climate center under the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. The average precipitation in Beijing proper is 212 mm. A township in the Fangshan district was hit by the largest rainfall of 366 mm.

At the Beijing airport, 229 domestic and 14 international flights were canceled and more were delayed, the airport authority announced. The Beijing News said some 80,000 travelers were stranded at the airport as of 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.

As of 4 a.m. Sunday, more than 30,000 residents in districts of Fangshan, Huairou, Mentougou and Pinggu as well as Miyun and Yanqing counties were relocated, Xinhua reported. The Beijing News said they included 5,200 people who left areas in Fangshan that were vulnerable to landslides.

Man drowned in his vehicle on Beijing street

Two people were killed and six others injured as strong winds toppled rooftops in two villages in the city's suburban Tongzhou district, the Beijing Emergency Medical Center said.

The third person, also in Tongzhou, was killed after being struck by lightning. The fourth, head of a police station in suburban Fangshan district died of electric shock from a fallen electric wire in waters while rescuing trapped villagers.

On the evening of July 21, 34 years old Mr. Ding from Jiangsu Province drowned in his trekking vehicle trapped in 4-meter deep water accumulated under Guangqumen overpass in center Beijing. According to local media, Mr. Ding telephoned his wife in the last minute asking her to call police for him. His wife said Mr. Ding could not open the door of the car due to heavy water pressure. And she tried to call the police at around 7:30 p.m. but was disappointed to find that the police hotline was always not reachable.

According to local report, Beijing police received the call for help from either Mr. Ding or his wife, and immediately sent rescuers to the Guangqumen overpass. The rescuers found the area had become a large "street sea". The area of the "street sea" was so large and the water was so deep that they could not do anything except investigate the situation.

At around 10:20 p.m. July 21, firefighters finally positioned the auto of Mr. Ding completely submerged in the "street sea" and dragged the auto with a rope to the "bank". But it was too late, Mr. Ding had drowned for hours.

The capital’s skies were clear Sunday, but the airport said nine more domestic flights were canceled and 50 delayed, while four international flights were canceled and four delayed.

Beijing government hails victory over the natural disaster

On the evening of July 22 Sunday, Beijing government held a press release. Party secretary and mayor Guo Jinlong said Beijing residents under the leadership of communist party had united their efforts in fighting the heaviest rainfall in 6 decades, and had already achieved first-phase victory over the natural disaster.

Chinese netizens question the quality of drainage system of Beijing

The popular Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging site, was flooded with comments and photos showing the city being swamped. While some comments mocked the embarrassment of Beijing confronting the heavy rain by saying "Go to Beijing to see the sea", many accused that the city's drainage system was ill prepared for rainstorms, and others doubted the authority exaggerated the Saturday rain as heaviest in 6 decades as an excuse to absolve them from blame.

@火星P民: People feel no pressure in going to Beijing to see the sea

@风舞秋阳: During my short life, I have encountered 10 times of once-in-a-hundred-years deluge, two times of once-in-a-millenium earthquakes. Only the once-in-four-years election has not been seen.

@wmlike: In 1862, Victor Hugo wrote in les Miserables that the underground sewerage system is the conscience of a city. Taiwan writer Lung Ying-Tai said: A rain is enough to evaluate whether a country and city is advanced or not, because they may have money to build skyscrapers, but have no patience to build a qualified underground drainage system. Highrise buildings are visible while drainage systems are invisible. A heavy rain is necessary to see the true face of a city and country.”

@ HEUNG: In the capital, the streets are loaded with deep water every time when there is a heavy rain. They often claim the rain is as rarely as once-in-a-hundred-year. The architects recruited nationwide are eating shit?

@陈冠希老师: The underground drainage system is just a decoration! Haha, a fly will laugh to death when hearing the statement that Beijing is an internationally recognized metropolis.

@dazhuguan: A heavy rain pushes the "world-class metropolis" back to its true prototype!

@笨头笨脑: Do not use the once-in-60-years as your excuse for your shabby planning on the drainage system of Beijing.

@奔驰的鸵鸟: The property price of Beijing will rise since they can be directly elevated to seaside houses. I suppose it is appropriate that the price rises to 50,000 RMB per square meter!


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