Beijing rains kill 37


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The Independent Online

As China's flood-ravaged capital dealt with the aftermath of the heaviest rain in six decades today, including the deaths of 37 people, questions were being raised about whether the city's push for modernisation came at the expense of basic infrastructure such as drainage networks.

Rescuers were still searching buildings that collapsed during Saturday night's torrential downpour and some roads that were covered in waist-deep water remained closed. The city government said as of last night, 25 people had drowned, six were killed when houses collapsed, one was hit by lightning and five were electrocuted by fallen power lines.

Beijing residents shared photos online of submerged cars stranded on flooded streets, city buses with water up to commuters' knees and cascades of water rushing down the steps of overpasses.

Nearly 57,000 people were evacuated from their homes, according to a report by the Beijing Daily newspaper on the Beijing government website.

Although the worst-hit areas were in rural hilly outskirts of the city, the scale of the disaster was a major embarrassment for Beijing, China's showcase capital where things like this are not supposed to happen.

Heavy rain also proved deadly elsewhere in the country. Fifteen people were killed and 19 remained missing in disasters linked to the rainstorms in Hebei province next to Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the provincial civil affairs bureau. Six people were killed by landslides in Sichuan province in the west and four died in Shanxi province in the north when their truck was swept away by a rain-swollen river. At least eight people died and 17 were missing due to storms in neighbouring Shaanxi province, and six people were killed and two were missing in Yunnan province in the south.