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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rain storms kill at least 37 in Beijing

Rain storms kill at least 37 in Beijing
Beijing:    Officials have raised the death toll to at least 37 in the heaviest rainstorm to hit Beijing in six decades, and dozens of other storm deaths have been reported elsewhere in China.

The rain on Saturday night knocked down trees in Beijing and trapped cars and buses in waist-deep water in some areas. A statement from the city government late on Sunday said 25 people drowned, six were killed when houses collapsed, one was hit by lightning and five were electrocuted by fallen power lines.

The official China Daily newspaper reported on Monday that rain and flooding caused damages of at least 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), with 60,000 people evacuated from their homes.

The official Globe Times said on Monday that it was the heaviest rainstorm in the capital in 61 years.

It was the heaviest on record in Fangshan district in the southwest of the city, which received 460 millimeters (18.4 inches) of rain on Saturday, according to the weather bureau. The agency also said suburban Pinggu district got 100.3 millimeters (4 inches) of rain in one hour.

A flash flood in Fangshan stranded 104 primary school students and nine teachers at a military training site, Xinhua said. They were taken to safety.

Elsewhere, six people were killed by rain-triggered landslides in Sichuan province in the west, Xinhua News Agency said, citing disaster officials.

Four people died in Shanxi province in the north when their truck was swept away by a rain-swollen river. In neighboring Shaanxi province, state media said at least eight people died and 17 were missing after heavy rains hit.

China suffers flooding and dozens of storm-related deaths every summer during its rainy season, but such a heavy downpour in relatively dry Beijing is unusual.

The capital's skies were clear on Monday, with traffic back to normal. The city's main airport was operating normally after hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed over the weekend.


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