Xi urges all-out rescue efforts as rains kill 20
At least 20 people were killed and 19 missing after heavy rains lashed Beijing and surrounding provinces, media said on Tuesday, in downpours that have submerged roads and deluged neighborhoods with mud.
Storm Doksuri, a former super typhoon, swept northwards over China after hitting the southeastern Fujian Province on Friday, following its battering of the Philippines.
Heavy rains began pummelling the capital and surrounding areas on Saturday, with nearly the average rainfall for the entire month of July dumped on Beijing in just 40 hours.
Swaths of suburban Beijing remain badly hit by the rains – some of the city's heaviest in years.
The persistent downpours since Saturday have affected over 44,600 people in 13 districts of the metropolis and prompted the relocation of around 127,000 people, according to the city's flood control authorities.
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday demanded all-out search and rescue of the people missing or trapped in floods and geological disasters in an instruction on the work regarding flood prevention and disaster relief.
It is crucial to ensure medical treatment for the injured and provide aid and comfort to the families of the deceased, said Xi, adding that the safety of the people's lives and properties as well as social stability must be ensured with utmost efforts.
Several districts in the city, including the hardest-hit Fangshan and Mentougou, maintained the highest-level alert for flood control on Tuesday, as downpours will continue, the city's flood control authorities said.
"On Monday morning, the road in front of my house turned into a river, and no one dared go out," said a resident of Mentougou, adding that after the water receded, the streets were filled with mud, tree branches and stranded cars.
One man said he had not seen flooding this bad since July 2012, when 79 people were killed and tens of thousands evacuated. "This time it's much bigger than that," he said.
"It's a natural disaster, there's nothing you can do," a 20-year-old man surnamed Qi, who was waiting for a taxi with his grandmother outside a hospital, said. "(We) still have to work hard and rebuild."
China Central Television said that the rains had killed at least 11 people in Beijing, two of whom were workers "killed on duty during rescue and relief."
Thirteen people were still missing, but another 14 had been found safe, the broadcaster said.
In neighboring Hebei Province, nine people were killed and six were missing, it said.
Authorities have allocated 110 million yuan (US$15.4 million) for disaster relief work in the capital and surrounding provinces, CCTV said.
In Mentougou, 62-year-old florist Wang Yongkun had piled sandbags around the door of his shop, but the floor inside was still coated in mud.
He said in 15 years working there he had never experienced anything like the last few days.
"We started cleaning up in the afternoon ... and woke up again at 7am today to continue," he said. "You just have to deal with it... We will endure what we can."
Further south in Fangshan District, the Dashi River had overflowed, with trees along the riverbank partially submerged, and some sections of the road cordoned off.
Earlier social media videos tagged in Fangshan had shown multiple cars being swept along roads turned into fast-flowing streams.
The capital activated a flood control reservoir on Monday for the first time since it was built in 1998, the Beijing Daily said.
Parts of Hebei remain under red alert for rainstorms, with authorities warning of potential flash floods.
In Handan, Hebei, rescuers lifted by crane reached a man trapped on top of his car in floodwaters, lifting him to safety before the car was flipped and washed away by the current.
China has been experiencing extreme weather and posting record temperatures this summer, events that scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.