Even Beijing can't hold back the tide


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The Independent Online

As China's flood-ravaged capital dealt with the aftermath of the heaviest rain in six decades, including the deaths of 37 people, questions were being asked yesterday about whether Beijing'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 downpour and some roads covered in waist-deep water remained closed. The man pictured used a signboard to help motorists driving through flooded street. Nearly 57,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

Although the worst-hit areas were rural, hilly outskirts, the scale of the disaster was a major embarrassment for the city. Beijing has seen billions of pounds poured into its modernisation, including venues for the 2008 Olympics, the world's second-largest airport, new subway lines and dazzling skyscrapers – all while crucial basics such as efficient drainage were apparently neglected.

"If so much chaos can be triggered in Beijing, the capital of the nation, problems in urban infrastructure of many other places can only be worse," said the Global Times newspaper.