Flights cancelled and schools closed as Beijing faces biggest storm this year

People wear raincoats as they ride electric scooters during a rainy day in Beijing, on July 12, 2021.
People wear raincoats as they ride electric scooters during a rainy day in Beijing, on July 12, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS
The weather authorities had warned of "extreme rainstorms" plus thunder and lightning in Beijing.
The weather authorities had warned of "extreme rainstorms" plus thunder and lightning in Beijing.PHOTO: REUTERS
A man's umbrella is flipped as he pedals along a street in Beijing, on July 12, 2021.
A man's umbrella is flipped as he pedals along a street in Beijing, on July 12, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - Hundreds of flights were cancelled in Beijing as schools and tourist sites were shut due to torrential downpours and gale-force winds on Monday (July 12).

City authorities issued warnings to residents to stay home as the Chinese capital faced its biggest storm this year.

As much as 100mm of rain is predicted through the day in some areas, and aviation tracker VariFlight recorded some 700 flights cancelled at the city's two airports.

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ801 from Beijing to Singapore experienced a slight delay, but none of its flights were cancelled. SIA only operates cargo flights to the destination, and Scoot does not fly to Beijing, according to a company statement. 

China's weather authorities warned of "extreme rainstorms" plus thunder and lightning from late Sunday to Monday evening in Beijing and neighbouring areas.

A landslide was recorded in one of the city's northern districts, with state broadcaster CCTV showing pictures of a road blocked by fallen rocks. Heavy rain was holding up efforts to clear the road, according to state TV.

Children stayed home as the city's kindergartens, primary and secondary schools closed on Monday.

Popular attractions including a part of the Great Wall were also shut, with some districts suspending rural homestays.

Some of Beijing's automatic driving trains will be operated manually instead, state media said.

Rainstorms also hit neighbouring Tianjin city, where state TV showed electric scooters driving through flooded streets and black skies lit up by regular flashes of lightning.


Passengers wait for their flights at Daxing International Airport in Beijing, on July 12, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

The weather authorities have warned of floods in 14 rivers, including tributaries in Sichuan and Shaanxi.

Floods are common during China's rainy season, with higher water levels in August last year washing away roads and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

But the threat has worsened over the decades, due in part to widespread construction of dams and levees that have cut connections between the river and adjacent lakes and floodplains that had helped absorb the summer surge.