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Record-breaking rainfall leads to destructive flooding in Beijing, at least 11 fatalities and 27 missing, China

Record-breaking rainfall leads to severe flooding and two fatalities in Beijing, China

The remnants of Typhoon “Doksuri” dropped record-breaking rainfall in China’s capital Beijing on July 30 and 31, 2023, leading to severe flooding. The historic rainfall measuring 687 mm (27 inches) over 48 hours resulted in at least two deaths and the evacuation of more than 50 000 people. This extreme rainfall event is still in progress.

By 16:00 LT on July 31, Beijing had experienced 40 hours of uninterrupted rainfall. Data from official sources reveal that from 20:00 LT on July 29 to 20:00 LT on July 31, the average rainfall in the city was 207.6 mm (8.17 inches). The Mentougou District, a scenic spot, recorded an excess of 580 mm (22.8 inches) of rainfall. Incomplete statistics (due to data transfer loss) indicate a maximum rainfall in Beijing over 48 hours reaching 687 mm (27.0 inches), shattering historical records.

During the afternoon of July 31, the Yongding River’s bridge in south Beijing’s Fengtai District collapsed due to surging water levels. This is reportedly Yongding’s largest flood since 1963.

Beijing’s flood prevention authorities announced the relocation of 52 384 residents by 20:00 LT on the same day. Measures also included the closure of 107 roads in mountainous areas, suspension of work at 4 069 construction sites, and closure of all scenic spots and countryside hotels.

The districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, and Daxing in Beijing renewed red alerts for rainstorms in the late afternoon of July 31 due to forecasts of more torrential rain with hourly precipitation above 100 mm (3.9 inches) until 08:00 LT on August 1. Earlier that day, meteorological authorities in Beijing had warned that small- and medium-sized rivers could experience flash floods and landslides.

A red alert for meteorological risk of geological disasters was also issued in the city on July 31. The alert advised the public of a high risk of geological disasters, including collapses and landslides, from midday Monday until midday Wednesday.

As of July 31, communications were reportedly disrupted in many places in western Beijing, and rainfall data temporarily stopped coming in during the morning hours. The extreme weather conditions also affected public transportation, with 427 bus lines run by the Beijing Public Transport Corporation impacted by 16:00 LT, and several train routes in the suburban areas or departing from Beijing suspending services.

Airports canceled more than 200 flights on Monday afternoon, with close to 600 delayed.

At least two individuals died in Mentougou, officials reported after rescue services discovered their bodies in a river on the morning of July 31.

Apart from Beijing, the neighboring city of Tianjin and Hebei province also experienced heavy rain in the aftermath of Doksuri, which was downgraded to a tropical depression over the weekend. Three of the five rivers making up the Hai river basin reached dangerous levels on July 31.

As of Monday noon (LT), more than 54 890 people in the city of Baoding in Hebei had been evacuated, and powerful flood waters had destroyed several bridges in the city’s Fuping Township, according to the city’s flood control and drought relief headquarters.

One person in Hebei is reportedly missing after two trucks fell off a collapsed bridge in Baoding on July 30.


August 1

The death toll in Beijing rose to 11 and the number of missing to 27, local authorities reported on August 1.


1 Update: Two killed, over 50,000 relocated in rainstorms in Beijing – Xinhua – July 31, 2023

2 Two killed in rainstorms in Beijing as downpours continue in north China – Xinhua – July 31, 2023

3 11 dead, 27 missing in Beijing rainstorms – Xinhua – August 1, 2023

Featured image credit: Jim Yang (stillshot)


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