Heaviest rains in 60 years in Beijing, 37 dead

Residents push a stranded car on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Unprecedented rainfall and floods wreaked havoc in Beijing Saturday night, with over three feet of standing water on some streets. The heaviest downpour in the Chinese Capital in 61 years caused numerous disruptions to ground and air traffic.

­More than 80,000 passengers were stranded overnight at the Beijing Capital International Airport as thunderstorms and rain brought operations to a halt, forcing more than 530 cancellations and 50 delays. Flights resume on Sunday morning as rainfall subsided.

The Beijing city government says on its official microblog at least 37 people have died from the rains and flooding, reports Reuters. A majority drowned, while six were killed by broken roofs. Five suffered fatal electrocution from downed power lines. A fatal lightning strike was also reported.

City authorities have confirmed ten deaths so far from the rains and flooding. Some were killed by broken roofs, but a majority suffered fatal electrocution from downed power lines. A fatal lightning strike was also reported.

As heavy rainfall continued throughout the night, Beijing authorities evacuated 14,500 residents. Some 7,000 police officers were deployed to direct the high volume of road traffic caused by the flooding. Most of the city’s streets resumed normal traffic patterns by Sunday morning.

The heaviest rainfall was recorded in the Fangshan suburban district, at upwards of 18 inches.

According to data obtained by 20 state meteorological stations in Beijing, the city received over six inches of precipitation, the highest recorded levels since observation began in 1951.

Ten additional deaths were reported in other provinces, mostly in mountainous areas where authorities evacuated residents over fears of possible landslides. Heavy rainfall in Sichuan province caused landslides that killed six; four more deaths were reported in the northern Shanxi province when a truck was washed away by river flooding.

Flood water falls down a stairway as residents get out of the entrance to a subway station amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Flood water falls down a stairway as residents get out of the entrance to a subway station amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

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A driver points to his car which has been stranded for half an hour on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012(Reuters / Stringer)
A driver points to his car which has been stranded for half an hour on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012(Reuters / Stringer)

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Residents look at a stranded car on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Residents look at a stranded car on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

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Paramilitary policemen (C) carry on rescue operation amid heavy rainfalls on a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass in central Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Paramilitary policemen (C) carry on rescue operation amid heavy rainfalls on a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass in central Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

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Workers pump flood water as a bus is stranded on a street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Workers pump flood water as a bus is stranded on a street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

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Rescuers and residents stand next to a stranded car which is being pulled up from a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass amid heavy rainfall in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Rescuers and residents stand next to a stranded car which is being pulled up from a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass amid heavy rainfall in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

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Rescuers and residents stand next to a stranded car which is being pulled up from a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass amid heavy rainfall in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Rescuers and residents stand next to a stranded car which is being pulled up from a flooded street under the Guangqumen overpass amid heavy rainfall in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

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Workers hold their hands to look for a sewage outfall on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Workers hold their hands to look for a sewage outfall on a flooded street amid heavy rainfalls in Beijing, July 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)