Beijing floods unleash online criticism of government (+video)(Read article summary)
The heaviest rain in six decades left at least 37 people dead and raised criticism online about Beijing's infrastructure.
For 16 hours on Saturday, sheets of unrelenting rain pummeled China’s capital, reportedly the heaviest storm in six decades.
By Sunday, Pan Anjun, deputy chief of the Beijing flood control headquarters, had tallied the damage. The Chinese newswire Xinhua reported that at least 37 people had died in storm-related damage or events, including 25 who drowned, 6 who were trapped in collapsing buildings, 5 who were electrocuted by fallen power lines, and 1 who was struck by lightning.
Some 500 flights into or out of Beijing Capital Airport were canceled. Reportedly 736 homes were flooded, and 66,000 residents in the hardest-hit areas had been temporarily located, many from the suburban district of Fangshan. At least 31 roads or bridges had collapsed.
All told, Mr. Pan estimated 2 million people were affected. And many of those have taken to online forums to express anger over what they see as ongoing lack of concern for proper construction amid Beijing's pell-mell growth – as well as for people's needs amid the storm.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media site, some residents suggested that China’s Meteorological Bureau should have alerted Beijingers to potential dangers through text messages sent via China’s giant state-run telecoms, China Mobile and China Unicom. Of greater Beijing’s roughly 20 million people, roughly 95 percent have cellphones.