Saturday’s floods in Beijing led to more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in damages, Chinese state media reported. As of Thursday night, the official flood related death toll reached 77.
Central areas of Beijing were hit with approximately nine inches of rain over 16 hours, causing massive amounts of water to form at intersections, sometimes several meters deep.
One man, identified by the local media as Mr. Ding Zhijian, was found dead in his car under one of these intersections. The 34 year old Ding called his wife at around 7:30 pm to ask for help. His car was stuck under the Guangqumen Bridge, and his attempt to reach the police or emergency personnel had been unsuccessful.
By 10:20 pm, local rescue crew finally pulled his car out from under four meters of water and rushed Ding to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Microblogs such as Sina Weibo played an important role in dealing with the floods over the weekend. Wang Hui, the city’s spokeswoman, used her Weibo account to respond to complaints that police were leaving tickets on abandoned vehicles by telling people that all such tickets will be made invalid.
However, flood-related posts that were critical of the government were disappearing online. That led some people to suspect that microblog companies were under government orders to censor postings on their sites.
Many local residents have voiced their concerns over the city’s sewer system, which consistently gets overwhelmed by heavy rainfall. Some have complained that government officials have been too pre-occupied with projects that are grandiose and visible which can earn their political credits, and they have neglected other essential infrastructure projects such as the drainage system which has not been properly maintained.
By Monday, auto insurance companies have received 27,459 claims totaling 220 million yuan ($35 million), according to a report released by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. Meanwhile, 1,080 property damage claims of approximately 200 million yuan ($32 million) have been filed with local property insurance companies.