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Storm kills 37, drainage system overwhelmed

By Li Qiaoyi and Li Ying (Global Times)

08:22, July 23, 2012

Firefighters and volunteers rescue passengers trapped by deep rain waters in Beijing, on July 21, 2012. The heaviest rain in 61 years that lashed Beijing Saturday have left at least four people dead and six others injured, local authorities said. The heavy rain that began to thrash the city around 10 am on Saturday inundated roads, making some impassable, and severely disrupted air traffic.(Xinhua Photo)

Beijing is counting the cost in lives and in cash in the aftermath of the biggest storm to hit the city for decades.

The death toll has reached 37 people, Beijing Municipal Government said via its microblog late Sunday.

Beijing government said 25 people drowned, six died in housing collapses, one man was hit by lightening, and five died because of electric shocks.

An earlier press release Sunday from Beijing Municipal Flood Control Headquarters said that casualties in the capital's southern Fangshan district may be expected to rise significantly. Initial figures Sunday morning put the number of deaths at 10.

Residents are asking questions over the capital's outdated drainage systems, which floods with annual inevitability, although until this weekend, with not such heavy fatalities.

The deluge affected around 1.9 million people and led to economic losses of roughly 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion), said Pan Anjun, deputy chief of Beijing flood control headquarters, according to Xinhua News Agency.

A total of 65,933 people were evacuated as of 6 pm Sunday, according to Pan, who revealed the rains have led to untold damage to roads, bridges, thousands of houses and buildings and to hundreds of vehicles.

Precipitation across the city averaged 170 millimeters, while the urban area saw an average of 225 millimeters during the 16-hour deluge, the worst for 61 years, said Pan.

Thousands of people in Fangshan district are counting the costs of the flood, with over 20,000 displaced and many more awaiting help from local authorities. Rescue operations were ongoing in the district as of last night.

Fangshan's Hebei township saw the heaviest deluge of rain for 500 years, flood control authorities said.

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