China 7/23/12

Last week I gave a word about China. It felt like something had hit me in the gut. Whenever that happens, it usually means something not good.

The heaviest rain to hit Beijing in six decades has killed at least 37 people and left cars and buses submerged as China braced Sunday for more downpours, reported state media.The government’s News Agengy Xinhua reported the Chinese capital was soaked by the heaviest rainfall in six decades. The city of Beijing posted the deaths online saying 25 people had drowned, six were killed when houses collaped, one was hit by lightning and five were electrocuted by falled power lines.The official China Daily newspaper reported Monday that rain and flooding caused damages of at least 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), with 60,000 people evacuated from their homes.More than 500 flights have also been cancelled at Beijing’s Capital International Airport, stranding some 80,000 travellers at the airport as of 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.A Beijing resident pushes her bicycle on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls on Saturday. Several people were killed in storm-related deaths. (Reuters)Elsewhere, six people were killed by rain-triggered landslides in Sichuan province in the west, Xinhua said, citing disaster officials. Four people died in Shanxi province in the north when their truck was swept away by a rain-swollen river. In neighboring Shaanxi province, state media said at least eight people died and 17 were missing after heavy rains hit.On Sunday, the government warned of more storms over the following 24 hours for China’s northeast, the port city of Tianjin east of Beijing, Inner Mongolia in the north, Sichuan and neighbouring Yunnan province, and Guangdong and Hainan provinces in the southeast.Downpour unusual for BeijingChina suffers flooding and dozens of storm-related deaths every summer rainy season, but such a heavy downpour in relatively dry Beijing is unusual.On Saturday, the capital’s suburban Fangshan district received 460 millimetres of rain, breaking a record set in 1951, the weather bureau said. It said suburban Pinggu district got 100.3 millimetres of rain in one hour.A flash flood in Fangshan stranded 104 primary school students and nine teachers at a military training site, Xinhua said. It said they were in no immediate danger and that rescuers had taken food to them.The capital’s skies were clear Sunday, but the airport said nine more domestic flights were cancelled and 50 delayed, while four international flights were cancelled and four delayed.Some 14,500 people were evacuated Saturday from parts of Beijing, Xinhua said. The Beijing News said they included 5,200 people who left areas in Fangshan that were vulnerable to landslides.
© The Associated Press, 2012

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