By Andy Wong And Huizhong Wu
China’s capital has recorded its heaviest rainfall in at least 140 years over the past few days after being deluged with heavy rains from the remnants of Typhoon Doksuri.
The city recorded 744.8 millimeters of rain between Saturday and Wednesday morning, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said Wednesday.
Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei have been hit by severe flooding because of the record rainfall, with waters rising to dangerous levels. The rain destroyed roads and knocked out power and even pipes carrying drinking water. It flooded rivers surrounding the capital, leaving cars waterlogged, while lifting others onto bridges meant for pedestrians.
Among the hardest hit areas is Zhuozhou, a small city in Hebei province that borders Beijing’s southwest. On Tuesday night, police there issued a plea on social media for lights to assist with rescue work.
It’s unknown how many people are trapped in flood-stricken areas in the city and surrounding villages.
On Wednesday, waters in Gu’an county in Hebei, which borders Zhuozhou, reached as high as halfway up a pole where a surveillance camera was installed.
Gu’an county resident Liu Jiwen, 58, was evacuated from his village on Tuesday night. “There’s nothing we can do. It’s natural disaster,” he said.
Two other people were trying to pass through the flooded areas to rescue a relative trapped in a nearby village.
Nearly 850,000 people have been relocated, local authorities in Hebei province said.
On Wednesday, the number of confirmed deaths from the torrential rains around Beijing rose to 21 after the body of a rescuer was recovered. Wang Hong-chun, 41, was with other rescuers in a rubber boat when it flipped over in a rapidly flowing river. Four of her teammates survived.
At least 26 people remain missing from the rains.
The previous record for rainfall was in 1891, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said Wednesday, when the city received 609 millimeters (24 inches) of rain. The earliest precise measurements made by machines are from 1883.
The record rainfall from Typhoon Doksuri may not be the last. Typhoon Khanun, which was lashing Japan on Wednesday, is expected to head toward China later this week. The powerful storm, with surface winds of up to 180 kph (111 mph), may also hit Taiwan before it reaches China.
Thousands of people were evacuated to shelters in schools and other public buildings in suburban Beijing and in nearby cities. The central government is disbursing 44 million yuan (US$6.1 million) for disaster relief in affected provinces.
The severity of the flooding took the Chinese capital by surprise. Beijing usually has dry summers but had a stretch of record-breaking heat this year.
Print this page