Two cars are inundated in the water near Lianhua bridge in southern Beijing early on Sunday, after the heaviest rainstorm in 61 years hit the capital on Saturday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
The heaviest rainstorms in 61 years hit the capital over the weekend, resulting in 37 deaths recorded as of 5 pm Sunday, authorities have announced.
A total of 25 people drowned, six were killed by collapsing houses, five by electrocution, and one by lightning strike, the Beijing municipal government said on its Sina Weibo account. Over 1.9 million residents have been affected, officials say.
While order in downtown Beijing has been restored, residents in the suburbs were still struggling as the Global Times went to press.
More than 20,990 flood victims had been relocated in the city's Fangshan district as of Sunday, the area the hardest hit by the torrential rains.
Two mudslides in Fangshan led to one death and one person still missing, the municipal flood control headquarters said.
A resident in Chengguan township in Fangshan district, surnamed Zhou, said about 40 families living in bungalows experienced flooding in their homes, but the township government has not provided any accommodation for the villagers.
"There was one-meter-deep water in 40 houses, and all the villagers are moving their appliances outside today," Zhou said as he helped a friend move his possessions to safety.
Traffic was paralyzed and villagers had to find friends or relatives who could provide shelter for the weekend, according to Zhou.
"There is not one township government official who has come to visit us," Zhou said.
Many houses became unsafe as their foundations were undermined by floods.
A pregnant woman surnamed Liu who worked at a steel company in Fangshan said that she and another 30 employees were forced to sit on top of a truck to avoid the rising waters on Saturday night, and they tried to call for help but there was not enough reception to make any calls.
"We waited for three hours and no one came to save us. We then walked in shoulder-high waters to get home," Liu said.
The rainstorm also affected scenic spots in Fangshan district. The road leading to the Shidu scenic spot collapsed, leaving around 10,000 tourists trapped at the tourist destination, according to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.
The owner of a farmer's courtyard in the Shidu scenic area, surnamed Qi, told the Global Times that all the entertainment areas in Shidu were flooded, but the trapped tourists were evacuated by Sunday afternoon.
Qi's village had no power and no water for all of Sunday. Most of the villagers in Shidu township survive on tourism, as does Qi, and the rainstorm is certain to result in economic losses as tourist numbers suffer over the coming month.
In a high-profile rescue, more than 400 primary students and school staff including six foreign teachers, who had been stranded in the flood at a training center for a summer school in Qinglonghu, in Fangshan district, were rescued by firemen, the Legal Mirror reported Sunday.
After approaching the center on foot on Saturday night, due to the flooding of nearby roads, the firemen drove steamboats across the water to rescue the victims, who had spent the whole night on the third floor of a building.
The rains also kept the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Expressway paralyzed as of Sunday afternoon, due to water that was unable to drain away.
Rescuers were confronted with a grisly sight as three corpses were found floating in a pool of water by the expressway, according to Xinhua.
The casualties again exposed the vulnerability of Beijing's drainage system to flooding, as calls for the local government to revamp the city's outdated drainage infrastructure were renewed.
Beijing downpour exposes holes in modernization drive
The heaviest downpour that hit Beijing in six decades flooded the city's main roads and killed 37 people over the weekend.