Beijing rains kill 37, raise infrastructure debate

By Alexa Olesen

Associated Press

Published: Monday, July 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

At least three people from the village were believed killed, locals said, including a man crushed by a falling power line and a woman and her baby who were washed away.

"We couldn't save them," said 50-year-old Wang Lianfeng, a villager who had taken shelter on a roof when she saw the woman and her 8-month-old daughter swept away.

Piles of dirt from a large construction site in Qinglonghu appeared to have formed a dam that kept the downpour from draining into a river, worsening the rain's damage. Other areas around Qinglonghu appeared minimally affected.

The village is in Fangshan district, the worst hit area of the city, which received 460 millimeters (18.4 inches) of rain on Saturday.

Some Beijing residents complained that the city government was too slow in warning residents about the rain and keeping them updated.

"A lot of the information that got to the public came from Weibo instead of any official government release," said Dong Liming, a professor at Peking University's College of Urban and Environmental Sciences. "The government should provide more disaster-related education to the public and precautions for extreme weather."

Heavy rain also proved deadly elsewhere in the country. Fifteen people were killed and 19 others remained missing in disasters linked to the rainstorms in Hebei province next to Beijing, Xinhua said, citing the provincial civil affairs bureau. Six people were killed by landslides in Sichuan province in the west and four people died in Shanxi province in the north when their truck was swept away by a rain-swollen river. At least eight people died and 17 were missing due to storms in neighboring Shaanxi province, and in Yunnan province in the south, six people were killed and two were missing.

Associated Press writer Isolda Morillo and researcher Zhao Liang contributed to this report.

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