Beijing Flooding: Over 30 dead, 18 missing

Some 59,000 homes collapsed and 150,000 others damaged by flooding brought on by record rainfall around China’s capital, Beijing.

The death toll from recent flooding in and around China’s capital Beijing has risen to 33, including five rescuers, while 18 other people remain missing, officials said, as much of the country’s north remained threatened by on-going heavy rainfall.

Record downpours had hit China’s capital in recent weeks, damaging infrastructure and deluging swaths of the city’s suburbs and surrounding areas.

Officials said on Wednesday that 33 people had died and 18 others were missing after the recent bad weather in Beijing, mainly due to flooding and building collapse.

Days of heavy rain hit areas in Beijing’s mountainous western outskirts, especially hard, causing the collapse of 59,000 homes, damage to almost 150,000 others and flooding of more than 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of cropland, the city’s government said on Wednesday.

Many roads were also damaged, along with more than 100 bridges, Xia Linmao, a Beijing vice mayor, said at a news conference.

“I would like to express my deep condolences to those who died in the line of duty and the unfortunate victims,” Linmao told reporters, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said Typhoon Doksuri hit China more than a week ago, but the extent of the devastation brought by flooding and building collapse was emerging only now.

“This is the worst natural disaster to hit the capital in years. The last time a storm of this scale occurred was in 2012,” Yu said, noting that areas hit hardest more than a decade ago – when almost 80 people died – were again the worst affected by the recent typhoon.

“Difficult questions are now being raised as to why lessons from that previous storm were not learned, and why buildings and roads were not reinforced, and why this damage has happened yet again,” Yu said.

Other parts of China have also seen heavy flooding, with many reported killed by flood waters across northern China, which has been battered by heavy rain since late July, disrupting lives of millions.

Officials in Beijing said last week that 147 deaths or disappearances last month were caused by natural disasters.

Of those, 142 were caused by flooding or other geological calamities, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said.

In Hebei province, which neighbours Beijing, 15 were reported to have died and 22 were missing and in north-eastern Jilin, 14 died and one person was reported missing on Sunday.

Further north in Heilongjiang, state media reported that dozens of rivers had seen water levels rise above “warning markers” in recent days.

China’s deadliest and most destructive floods in recent history were in 1998, when 4,150 people died, most of them along the Yangtze River.

In 2021, more than 300 people died in the central province of Henan. Record rainfall inundated the provincial capital of Zhengzhou in July of that year, turning streets into rushing rivers and flooding at least part of a subway line.

Other areas in China are also suffering from the scorching summer heat and drought, which is threatening residents’ health and crop harvest.