Extreme rain in Beijing after typhoon turns roads into rivers, kills two

By Reuters   July 31, 2023 | 03:19 pm PT
Extreme rain in Beijing after typhoon turns roads into rivers, kills two
People in raincoats carry umbrellas to shield themselves from the wrath of storm ‘Doksuri’ on a road in China’s capital Beijing on July 31, 2023. Photo by AFP
In Beijing's western suburbs, cars were swept away on Monday as relentless rain since the weekend transformed roads into rivers, killing at least two and trapping hundreds, despite an overnight evacuation of tens of thousands from their homes.

Hundreds of roads have become flooded in China's capital, with videos posted by state media showing half-submerged vehicles in Mentougou district pulled along by fast-moving torrents as the remnants of Typhoon Doksuri dumped record rainfall on the city of nearly 22 million.

Two bodies were found in a river during an emergency patrol in Mentougou as rescuers pulled hundreds to safety in other parts of the city.

Besides Beijing, heavy rain continued to soak the neighbouring city of Tianjin as well as Hebei province in a region nearly the size of Britain in the wake of Doksuri, which was downgraded to a tropical depression on the weekend.

Three of the five rivers that make up the Hai river basin rose to dangerous levels on Monday. Some houses were washed into the Yongding river, and nearly 55,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Baoding city, state media reported.

Doksuri was one of the strongest storms to hit China in years and caused widespread flooding over the weekend in the southern province of Fujian, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Average rainfall in Beijing reached 176.9 mm (7 inches) between Saturday night and Monday afternoon, with the maximum recorded rainfall in at a weather station in Mentougou hitting 580.9 mm (23 inches), according to state media.

The Beijing observatory kept a red alert - the highest warning - for heavy rainfall in place, while Beijing Hydrology Station upgraded its flood warning with more rain and river flooding forecast.

Incessant rainfall over the weekend until Monday morning has broken daily precipitation records at 14 weather stations in Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong provinces.

More than 31,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Beijing, work at more than 4,000 construction sites was halted, almost 20,000 buildings were inspected for damage, and scenic spots in the city were closed, media reported.

Both airports in the capital cancelled more than 200 flights on Monday afternoon, with close to 600 delayed, according to flight tracking app Flight Master.

Railway authorities dispatched workers to send food including instant noodles, eggs and ham, and drinking water to train passengers who were stuck overnight.

As many as 358 roads in Beijing were affected by the rain as of Monday.

In northern Hebei province, a driver was missing after two trucks fell off a collapsed bridge in Baoding city on Sunday, while a railway bridge for freight in Shijiazhuang city was washed away in a swollen river, media reported.

While Doksuri continues to taper off, forecasters warned that typhoon Khanun was approaching and was set to strike China's densely populated coast this week.

Authorities said Khanun could inflict further damage to corn and other crops that have already been hit by Doksuri.

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