Heavy Rains Blamed for at Least 37 Deaths in Beijing
Source: NY Times
By ANDREW JACOBS
BEIJING — The heaviest rainfall in six decades caused widespread havoc in this capital over the weekend, killing at least 37 people and forcing the evacuation of 50,000 others from waterlogged neighborhoods and villages, according to the state news media.
More than six inches of rain fell overnight Saturday into Sunday, collapsing roofs, downing power lines and turning highway underpasses into ponds that engulfed scores of cars and buses. About 80,000 passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport were stranded overnight after fierce thunderstorms forced the cancellation of 500 flights, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
The sewer system of Beijing, a city poised on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is ill-equipped to handle heavy precipitation; residents in low-lying areas are accustomed to dealing with minor flooding after rainstorms. Officials said the rain, which began at noon and stretched into the early morning, was the heaviest since 1951.
The city’s flood control bureau said the downpour in the city’s southwestern Fangshan district brought 18 inches of water and forced the evacuation of hundreds, including 350 students who were trapped at a military training site. Among the dead were a police officer electrocuted by a falling power line and another person struck by lightning.