Rain pelts Beijing leaving 11 dead and 27 missing

Relentless heavy rainfall in Beijing has killed 11 people with 27 others missing, Chinese state media reports.

The rain stretched into a fourth day in the Chinese capital and nearby cities on Tuesday after a Typhoon Doksuri brought northern China widespread flooding.

Rivers have swollen to dangerous levels, prompting Beijing to use a flood storage reservoir for the first time since it was built 25 years ago.

As of Monday night, China’s capital city had sealed off more than 100 mountain roads and evacuated more than 52,000 people from their homes.

Doksuri, one of the strongest storms to hit China in years, weakened as it rolled inland, but authorities warned that risks of further floods and other geological disasters remained.

Localised thunderstorms and strong winds were forecast for Beijing on Tuesday, as well as for neighbouring city Tianjin and Hebei province, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Several subway lines in the capital, including trains in western suburbs, were suspended on Tuesday. Beijing’s Mentougou district in the west saw dramatic damage a day before, after torrential rains turned roads into rivers, sweeping cars away.

“I’m old but I’ve never seen flooding like this before in my life, Mentougou resident Qin Quan told Agence France-Presse.

She also showed journalists a video on her phone, which is being shared among local residents, of workers trying to resuscitate an unconscious man, and footage of a man desperately clinging to a pole with one hand as the water washed over him.

State television has aired footage of the military airdropping food and ponchos to residents in Mentougou.

Beijing had an average of 260 millimetres of rainfall from Saturday to early Monday, with the Changping Wangjiayuan Reservoir logging the largest reading at 738.3 millimetres.

The city government said the rainfall in the past few days had exceeded records from a severe storm 11 year ago. In July 2012, Beijing was hit by the strongest storm since the founding of modern China, with the city receiving 190.3 millimetres of rain in one day, affecting more than 1.6 million people.

South of Beijing, in Hebei province, precipitation from Saturday to Monday at one local weather station totalled more than the amount normally seen over half a year, with rainfall amounting to 1003 millimetres for the three-day period. Precipitation in the county where the station is located averages 605 millimetres a year.

Videos shared widely on social media on Monday showed fast-moving water rushing through Beijing. Churning, muddy waves threatened to sweep over bridges, while streets were deserted.

Hebei authorities have opened flood storage and diversion areas to manage flooding risks in the Hai river basin, where five rivers converge in a region nearly the size of Britain.

Doksuri swept through coastal Fujian last week, taking a 14.76 billion yuan ($3.06 billion) direct economic toll on the south-eastern province and affecting almost 2.7 million people. Nearly 562,000 people were evacuated from homes and more than 18,000 houses were destroyed, state media reported.

Elsewhere, as Doksuri tapers off, Chinese forecasters have warned that typhoon Khanun is approaching the country. It is expected 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.

-with AAP

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