Death toll in recent Beijing flooding rises to 33, with 18 people still missing

People on a damaged canal bank clogged with flood debris
Flood debris clogs a canal Monday on the outskirts of Beijing after unusually heavy rainfall.
(Andy Wong / Associated Press)
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The death toll from recent flooding in China’s capital has risen to 33, including five rescuers, and another 18 people are missing, officials said Wednesday, as much of the country’s north remains threatened by unusually heavy rainfall.

Days of heavy rain hit areas in Beijing’s mountainous western outskirts especially hard, causing the collapse of 59,000 homes, damage to almost 150,000 others and flooding of more than 37,000 acres of cropland, according to the city government.

Scores of roads were damaged, along with more than 100 bridges, said Xia Linmao, a Beijing vice mayor, at a news conference Wednesday.


The casualty and damage figures were as of Tuesday, Xia said, adding that rescue efforts remained underway. Given the level of damage, it could take up to three years to restore full functions, Xia said.

The badly affected area, which includes the districts of Mentougou and Fanshan, are miles away from the city center, where the nation’s leaders live and many of its top administrative and business centers are located.

Other parts of China have also seen heavy flooding, partly from the impact of Typhoon Doksuri over the weekend, leaving dozens dead and missing. Hebei province, just outside Beijing, has seen some of the region’s worst flooding. Floodwaters in Zhuozhou, southwest of Beijing, started to recede Saturday, allowing some of the 125,000 evacuated residents to return to their homes.

Fears are intensifying over the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam, where the reservoir has risen to its highest point since the dam was completed in 2006.

July 28, 2020

A rescue operation was also underway in the tourist resort of Yaan in the southwestern province of Sichuan, where about a dozen visitors were swept away by rushing waters, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The bodies of seven victims were recovered, while four people were rescued, and rescuers were still looking for others, the agency said.

Heavy rains have battered northern China since late July, disrupting the lives of millions.

Meanwhile, other areas are suffering from scorching summer heat and drought, threatening people’s heath and the autumn harvest. More than 5,000 firefighters were battling some 15 wildfires in China’s sprawling Inner Mongolia region in the country’s far north, on the border with Russia and Mongolia.


Earlier, six people died and four went missing in the city of Shulan in the northeastern province of Jilin, which experienced five straight days of rainfall, turning streets into rivers and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands. Heilongjiang province to the north has also seen rivers overflow their banks.

The Mendenhall River flooded on Saturday because of a major release from Suicide Basin above Juneau, Alaska’s capital.

Aug. 7, 2023

China’s deadliest and most destructive floods in recent history were in 1998, when 4,150 people died, most of them along the Yangtze River.

In 2021, more than 300 people died in the central province of Henan. Record rainfall inundated the provincial capital of Zhengzhou on July 20 that year, turning streets into rushing rivers and flooding at least part of a subway line.