Thirty-three people have been confirmed dead and 18 are still missing after Beijing’s heaviest rains on record, officials said Wednesday.
China’s capital has been hit by record downpours in recent weeks, damaging infrastructure and deluging swaths of the city’s suburbs and surrounding areas.
Floods in China’s southwestern Sichuan province also killed seven people on Wednesday, state media reported.
Authorities in the capital said on Wednesday that 33 had died in the recent bad weather in Beijing, mainly by flooding and buildings collapsing, almost three times the figure given by officials on Tuesday last week.
“I would like to express my deep condolences to those who died in the line of duty and the unfortunate victims,” Xia Linmao, Beijing’s vice-mayor, told a news conference, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Scores have died in the floods across northern China, with Beijing officials saying on Friday 147 deaths or disappearances last month were caused by natural disasters.
Of those, 142 were caused by flooding or geological disasters, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said.
In Hebei province, which neighbours Beijing, 15 were reported to have died and 22 were missing.
And in northeastern Jilin, 14 died and one person was reported missing on Sunday.
Further north in Heilongjiang, state media reported dozens of rivers had water levels rise above “warning markers” in recent days.
“I still feel scared when I recall the recent flooding,” Zheng Xiaokang, a police officer from the province’s Jiangxi village, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“In the face of the persistent downpour and rising river water, the consequences would have been devastating had we not managed to timely evacuate the villagers,” Zheng said.
Millions of people have been hit by extreme weather events and prolonged heatwaves around the globe in recent weeks, events that scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.
CCTV said seven people died in Sichuan on Wednesday and four others were rescued from the water, adding that “local public security, fire and other departments are continuing to carry out search and rescue efforts”.
The incident occurred at about 10 am near an embankment southwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu, where “more than 10” people were swept away by an unexpected tide of water, state media said.
The victims, who were reportedly taking pictures when the torrent struck, were tourists visiting a popular site.
Video shared by CCTV showed several people struggling to keep their heads above water as a powerful torrent pushed them downstream and bystanders shouted from the water’s edge.
The cause of the deluge of water was not immediately clear.
Meteorological authorities in the nearby city of Qionglai continued to issue a yellow warning for rain at 10:40 am on Wednesday, anticipating possible precipitation of “more than 50 mm” over the next six hours in certain parts of the administrative district.