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Heavy rainfall leaves many dead in China
Heaviest rainfall in 60 years leaves 37 dead in Beijing, as more than 500 flights are cancelled.
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2012 20:37

The heaviest rain to hit Beijing in six decades has killed at least 37 people and left cars and buses submerged, Chinese state media has reported.

Xinhua news agency said on Sunday more victims of the downpours which battered much of the capital throughout Saturday had been discovered, revising up considerably the number of dead from ten.

More than 500 flights were cancelled at the main airport, the Beijing News reported.

The rain on Saturday night knocked down trees in Beijing and trapped cars and buses in waist-deep water in some areas.

The rainstorms led to the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from their homes in Beijing, mostly from the city's outlying mountainous districts, as up to 46cm (18 inches) of rain lashed some areas, the agency added.

Xinhua quoted the Beijing municipal government as saying 25 of the victims had drowned, six had died when their houses collapsed, one was killed by a lightning strike and five had been electrocuted.

Twenty-two of the bodies have been identified, it added.

The agency had earlier reported the death toll at 10 but said it was expected to rise as numerous people, including rescue workers, were missing.

The government flood control headquarters told AFP news agency damage assessments were ongoing.

Three bodies were recovered in Beijing's mountainous Fangshan region where several landslides were reported, China National Radio reported.

Up to 46cm of rain fell in Fangshan district, the most rain to hit the city in a 14-hour period since records began in 1951, Xinhua said.

Clean-up operation under way

Photos showed entire parking lots flooded, while rescue and traffic workers were seen diving underwater to unclog roadside drains as helpless drivers looked on from partially submerged cars.

Numerous roads in the capital were submerged under up to a metre of water, while 500 outbound flights were cancelled and at least 80,000 passengers stranded.

On Sunday, clean-up crews were out repairing damage under largely sunny skies, while workers scrambled to drain up to one million cubic metres (35 million cubic feet) of water from the sewer system.

Despite the damage, the rain was largely welcomed in drought-prone northern China which has suffered from a lack of rain over the last decade.

More torrential rain was forecast in China's northeast and southwest, after at least 10 other people were killed since Friday.

In the northern province of Shanxi province, four people died and one remained missing after their pick-up truck was swept into a river as they attempted to cross a bridge, Xinhua said.

Landslides in southwestern Sichuan province resulted in six deaths, provincial flood control and drought relief officials told the agency.

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