By Francis Markus in Beijing
Beijing Red Cross teams were continuing to offer support and comfort to shocked survivors and search for those possibly still trapped after the heaviest rain storm in 61 years lashed the Chinese capital on Saturday. The storm lasted for more than 12 hours and left at least 37 people dead.
On one stretch of motorway outside the capital, rescue workers, including Red Cross teams, were today still pumping away meters of flood waters to access scores of stranded cars in which they feared some people might remain trapped.
“Many pumping trucks were working all night to try and free the cars, and we have already found 33 cars overnight,” said Zhang Yong, head of the specialised Beijing Red Cross Blue Sky Rescue Team.
Rescuers using inflatable boats and diving equipment freed around 150 people from the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Expressway, who had been trapped under a railway bridge.
Chinese microblog social media sites carried many messages from people, reporting relatives or friends trapped by the flood water in various locations, calling on Blue Sky teams to rescue them.
In Fangshan, the worst-affected district in the southwest of Beijing, 460mm of rain was recorded in the downpour, while in urban districts the average precipitation reached 170mm.
Beijing Red Cross 999 Emergency Response team was sent to Fangshan to rescue people trapped by the floods and help care for some of the more than 65,000 people evacuated from their homes.
Hundreds of ambulance crew members and volunteers were involved in the relief operations.
The organization also provided relief goods to survivors, including 100 kits with blanket, umbrella, T-shirt and other goods, and sent 200 quilts and 30 mattresses to Fangshan District.
Among the 37 reported dead so far, 25 were drowned, 6 died in collapsed homes, one was struck by lightening and 5 electrocuted by falling electrical wires.
The deluge affected a total of around 1.9 million people and led to an estimated economic loss of approximately 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). 65,933 people were evacuated as of 6pm local time on Sunday (July 22).
The rains have caused extensive damage to roads, bridges, thousands of houses and buildings and to hundreds of vehicles, and have submerged some power supply facilities and led to blackouts in some areas of the city.