July 23, 2012 - Heavy Rains Kill 37 in Beijing, China: The heaviest rainfall in six decades caused widespread havoc in this capital over the weekend, killing at least 37 people and forcing the evacuation of 50,000 others from waterlogged neighborhoods and villages, according to the state news media. Pictured above,residents sat amid debris and damaged vehicles after a flood caused by heavy rainfall swept through Wa Jing Village near Beijing.
More than six inches of rain fell overnight Saturday into Sunday, collapsing roofs, downing power lines and turning highway underpasses into ponds that engulfed scores of cars and buses. About 80,000 passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport were stranded overnight after fierce thunderstorms forced the cancellation of 500 flights, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
The sewer system of Beijing, a city poised on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is ill-equipped to handle heavy precipitation; residents in low-lying areas are accustomed to dealing with minor flooding after rainstorms. Officials said the rain, which began at noon and stretched into the early morning, was the heaviest since 1951.
The city’s flood control bureau said the downpour in the city’s southwestern Fangshan district brought 18 inches of water and forced the evacuation of hundreds, including 350 students who were trapped at a military training site. Among the dead were a police officer electrocuted by a falling power line and another person struck by lightning.
Elsewhere in the country, at least 10 people drowned or perished in landslides, including four people killed in northern Shanxi Province when their truck was swept away by a swollen river, the state news media reported.
Although the rain yielded to sunny skies on Sunday, meteorologists warned of more stormy weather in the coming days.
The Master of Disaster