Torrential rain in China leaves one dead, 34 missing; flights, train service disrupted in Beijing

A tricycle makes its way along a flooded street in Beijing on July 20, 2016.
A tricycle makes its way along a flooded street in Beijing on July 20, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP/REUTERS) - At least one person was killed and 34 missing as torrential rain pounded northern China, state media reported on Wednesday (July 20).

Heavy downpours struck Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, causing all major rivers to breach their banks and damaging 11 dams and two hydropower stations, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Nearly 68,000 residents had been relocated as the provincial land resources bureau warned of flooding, landslides and mountain torrents, it said.

The weather authorities in the province have issued their highest, or red, alert for rainstorms, the agency added.

Beijing was also hit by the rainfall, with some roads submerged by water more than 2m deep, traffic delayed and some subway stations reporting leaks, the city's newspapers said.

Persistent heavy rain caused widespread disruption in the Chinese capital, forcing the delay and cancellation of hundreds of flights and the closure of some subway stations.

At a meeting of the top government body, the Politburo standing committee, President Xi Jinping urged officials to be prepared for rescue work and flood control efforts as China is in its flood season, the official Xinhua news agency said.  

The Beijing city government issued an orange alert, the second-highest in China's four-tier warning system, over the rain, and warned it could continue overnight, with a total of 100mm of rain expected in some areas.

More than 200 flights were cancelled at Beijing's main international airport, and a handful of subway stations shut, the government said.

Pictures on social media showed cars making their way slowly through flooded streets in parts of the city.

Some high speed rail services were also delayed, the rail authority said.

There were no reports of any casualties.

Beijing's steamy summer months are often marked by dramatic rainstorms, one of which in 2012 killed 37 people.

Torrential rain has already wreaked havoc in southern China this year, causing floods in several major cities including Wuhan in the central province of Hubei.

Northern China is normally arid but flooding is not rare during the summer monsoon season.

In the summer of 2012 Beijing was lashed by the worst rains to hit the capital for more than 60 years and around 80 people were killed.