18.4 inches (460 mm) of rain in one day – Beijing in chaos
The heaviest rain to hit the Chinese capital in six decades killed at least 37 people and left cars and buses submerged.
The deaths have prompted public expressions of grief and anger and led some in China to question how a city lauded for its shiny new infrastructure and rapid modernization could fail so tragically in the face of bad weather.
On Saturday, the capital’s suburban Fangshan district received 18.4 inches (460 mm) of rain, the most rain to hit the city in a 14-hour period since records began in 1951, the weather bureau said. It said suburban Pinggu district got 4 inches (100.3 mm) of rain in one hour.
The rain knocked down trees, trapped cars and buses in waist-deep water, and stranded at least 80,000 travelers at the city’s main airport, state media reported on Sunday.
The deluge caused more than 31 road cave-ins and led to more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in economic losses, Xinhua quoted Pan Anjun, deputy chief of the Beijing flood control headquarters, as saying.
Of the 37 dead, 25 drowned, six were killed as a result of collapsed structures, five were electrocuted and one was struck by lighting, according to the official account released by the Beijing municipal government.
Many residents took to China’s popular micro blogging site Sina Weibo to post dramatic pictures of the storm. Some complained the city should have been prepared, especially as the government had issued a severe storm warning the day before.
“It was forecast early on that Beijing would get torrential rain, so why were pumps and other facilities not prepared in time?” complained one user.
China suffers flooding and dozens of storm-related deaths every summer rainy season, but such a heavy downpour in relatively dry Beijing is unusual.
Meanwhile, China braced for even more downpours.
Thanks to Dean Koehler, Robert Stom and Marcus Muraca for these links