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Beijing reflects on emergency after rainstorms

(China Daily)

11:32, July 28, 2012

A top Beijing official said on Friday that the recent rainstorms in the capital, that resulted in at least 77 deaths, have exposed serious flaws in the city's urban planning, construction, infrastructure and emergency management procedures.

Guo Jinlong, secretary of the Communist Party of China Beijing Municipal Committee, paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the disaster during a trip to Fangshan district, one of the worst hit by the storms.

"We must seriously reflect on these lessons and always bear them in mind," said Guo, who was elected secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee on July 3.

He pointed out that the disaster had delivered some "profound lessons and exposed many loopholes".

Acting Mayor Wang Anshun, who joined other city officials at a memorial ceremony to remember those killed in Fangshan, said he appreciated the public's criticism, and their concerns on the government's handling of the aftermath.

"The municipal government will seriously consider the criticisms raised, and increase its efforts to prevent such a tragedy from happening again," he said.

Latest updates on the storm's death toll has sparked growing public criticism. Municipal authorities reported a new figure of 77 deaths on Thursday evening, four days after first reporting 37 deaths.

Friday was the seventh day following the deaths. In Chinese tradition, the seventh day following death is a day to mourn and pray for the deceased.

Guo led city officials in several minutes' silence on the bank of the Juma River, where flooding caused heavy casualties, as well as considerable damage to property.

Rescuers retrieved 38 bodies in Fangshan, including that of an 8-month-old girl. Most of the victims had drowned.

The downpour, reportedly the heaviest rain to hit the city in six decades, unleashed a city-wide average of 170 mm of rainfall, with Fangshan receiving a record 460 mm of rain.

Qi Hong, head of the district, told municipal officials that conditions there remain chaotic.

Roads are blocked, supplies of electricity and water have yet to be restored and many people have been left homeless.

"Our primary job is to ensure that all the victims have shelter and sufficient food supplies," Qi said.

Guo and other officials dined together with flood refugees and construction workers in a temporary settlement in the village of Baidai.

Qi said the disaster affected 800,000 people in the district, as well as causing 2.26 billion yuan ($358 million) of damage.

Wang pledged that the city government will make every effort in directing relief work, including restoring water and power supplies, repairing roads, controlling possible disease outbreaks and preventing floods in the event of more downfalls.

City braced for more rain

Beijing issued fresh warnings of possible land damage on Friday afternoon, as the city braced itself for more heavy rain from Friday evening to Saturday.

The city's Bureau of Land and Resources and Meteorological Bureau jointly issued a yellow alert at 4:10 pm for possible mudslides and cave-ins in mountainous areas in the Pinggu, Huairou, Fangshan and Mentougou districts and Miyun county.

A yellow alert is the third-highest warning level in China's five-tier color-coded geological disaster warning system.

According to the latest meteorological data, Beijing will see showers and thunderstorms in some areas on Friday evening.

Xinhua

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