Qiu Yan holds her husband's portrait at his funeral in Babaoshan funeral home Wednesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
The funeral of the driver who died in his submerged Hyundai Tucson SUV under Guangqumen Bridge, Dongcheng district, was held at Babaoshan funeral home Wednesday morning.
The victim, 34-year-old Ding Zhijian, was an editor at magazine Ah Ah Xiong. He was the only victim to have died among five drivers trapped in the 4-meter-deep water on the main road under the bridge on Saturday.
Ding's tragic death, among all those who died as a result of the rainstorm, has attracted so much attention as it was live broadcast on China Central Television, and occurred in central Beijing, along the Second Ring Road.
Many Web users have posted comments on Sina microblogs, expressing that the government should take responsibility for the death of someone who died as a result of flooding along one of the city's main traffic arteries.
Over 100 people, including Ding's family, friends, and many local residents attended the funeral.
Qiu Yan, Ding's widow, was visibly distressed.
She at first refused to talk to media, until the Global Times promised that the newspaper will report both the facts and her complaints.
Her main criticisms were directed toward the sloppy emergency response on Saturday. Her husband first called her at 7:40 pm that evening, saying he could not get through to the 110 emergency line.
"He said the car is submerged but he could not open the doors. He asked me to call 110. But it also took me at least 10 minutes to reach them," she said.
Qiu added that she hopes Beijing could establish a professional emergency rescue team, just like that in Hong Kong.
When she arrived at the scene at 8:10 pm, some policemen and firefighters had arrived, but without inflatable boats, Qiu said.
"I told them my husband is in the car submerged in the main road, but they didn't go there, they just jumped into the water in the side road," she said.
A large number of rescuers arrived at about 10:20 pm.
"It only took 10 minutes to pull the car out. If they started the rescue earlier, my husband wouldn't have had to die," she said.
Although all those in the other four cars had successfully escaped by themselves, rescuers pulled the four empty cars out first and then went to their car, she said.
"The doors could still not be opened and they had to break the windows to get him out, but he didn't have any signs of life," she said.
An medical examination conducted at Beijing Hospital, Dongcheng district, showed Ding drowned.
"Some witnesses told me the car was not submerged gradually, but at a high speed because the water from the sewers suddenly erupted and flooded the road," she said.
"There were no signs around the road to warn drivers at all," she said.
A staff member with the flood control office in Dongcheng district, surnamed Zhang, told the Global Times that they will give notice to medical and firefighting departments to be prepared for bad weather in advance.
"But it's the traffic department's responsibility to set up warning signs on roads vulnerable to rainstorms," he said.
No government officials came to the funeral except for some from the Civil Affairs Bureau in Dongcheng district, said Qiu, adding that the bureau gave her 10,000 yuan ($1,565) as consolation money Monday.
Following Ding's death, posts regarding how to escape from a car in an emergency have gone viral, and sales of hammers to smash vehicle windows in case of emergency have skyrocketed.
Zhou Yulei, with the public relations department of Taobao.com, told Yangzhou Daily that sales of hammers increased 598 percent.
"Most buyers are from Beijing, 1,080 buyers in three days," Zhou said.
Qiao Yujiang, a Beijing driver, told the Global Times that as a sophisticated driver, he would not drive on stormy days.
"Once you see you are not able to turn around, get out of the car and leave immediately," he said.