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China: Beijing floods devastate city, kill dozens

August 9, 2023

Dozens of people have been killed by floods and collapsed buildings in China's capital, Beijing, after weeks of rain. Thousands of homes have also been destroyed.

Floods debris are left over near a commercial office building in the aftermath of flood waters from an overflowing river in the Mentougou district on the outskirts of Beijing
The city of over 20 million has been hit hard by weeks of rainfall and severe floodingImage: Andy Wong/AP Photo/picture alliance

Recent heavy flooding in the Chinese capital has left the city reeling as officials on Wednesday announced that the death toll had risen to 33, with 18 more people still missing.

Beijing has been slammed by record rainfall in recent weeks, with the deluge causing havoc to infrastructure and destroying thousands of homes.

"I would like to express my deep condolences to those who died in the line of duty and the unfortunate victims," Xia Linmao, one of the city's vice mayors, said during a press conference, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Five rescuers were among the dead.

Agriculture and infrastructure hit hard

City officials said some 59,000 homes had collapsed in the flooding, while another 150,000 had been damaged, especially in Beijing's mountainous western outskirts.

The flooding also took its toll on cropland, with more than 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) hit.

Scores of roads across the city region were also damaged, as were over 100 bridges.

Xia said that rebuilding and repairs could take up to three years.

Heavy machineries carry out restoration work near a collapsed road in the aftermath of flood waters from an overflowing river in Shijiaying Town of Fangshan District on the outskirts of Beijing
The floods caused widespread damage that could take years to recover fromImage: Ju Huanzong/Xinhua/AP Photo/picture alliance

Extreme weather across China

Heavy rains and floods have also hit regions across northern China — thanks in part to Typhoon Doksuri over the weekend.

Hebei province, which neighbors Beijing, officials reported that 15 people had been killed and 22 were still missing. In northeastern Jilin, the toll was 14 dead and one person reported missing on Sunday.

Some 125,000 residents from the city of Zhuozhuo to the southwest of Beijing were able to return to their homes on Saturday after flooding had necessitated their evacuation.

At the same time as parts of the country have been suffering from record rainfall, over regions have been hit by scorching summer heat and drought.

Increasingly intense and more frequent extreme weather events, as have been seen across the world over the past months — and years — have been connected to rising global temperatures caused in large part by carbon emissions.

UN: July on course to be hottest month in human history

ab/sms (AP, AFP)